Then you probably got your ballot in the mail and are maybe looking for a little clarification as to what you are being asked. Some elected officials in the City of Renton feel that our library should be a part of the King County Library System. There are a lot of posts here that can explain a bunch of different things about what will happen to the library, the staff, control and your taxes. Feel free to read whatever you want but if you want the condensed version here it is…

A vote of “YES” (we don’t recommend that) will get you:

  • Higher property taxes in 2011. $0.42 or $0.50 per $1,000 A/V and that is just to annex – this new tax amount will not pay for new library buildings
  • A loss of local control over the collection, library services and library programs
  • Library Board made up of members that do not live in Renton
  • Longer wait times for popular books and dvds. KCLS brags about the size of their collection, over 6 million  items, but they never brag about the number of patrons they serve which is over 1.2 million. Not only that the collection is disbursed over 44 branches all over King County
  • One less choice. Right now with our reciprocal agreement we can use both the Renton Public Library and KCLS but if we annex into the system we are taking that choice away

A “NO” Vote (that is what we recommend) will get you:

  • Local control over our Renton Public Library – an institution that has served our community so well for over 100 years 
  • A Library Board with members that live in Renton
  • Control over when and how new funding can be found to improve the Renton Public Library according to the Master Plan Study
  • An amazing collection that will remain in Renton
  • A knowledgeable staff that can customize services and materials for the needs of Renton, not 44 branches spread over a huge area
  • When the time comes to building new library facilites the buildings will be paid for by the taxpayers of Renton and the City of Renton will retain ownership of these buildings, if we annex to KCLS we pay for new buildings and they will own them

There are so many reasons to remain independent but these are some of the reasons we feel it is important to “Vote NO”.

Finally, Renton For KCLS Now is always quoting  the Library Master Plan Study to point out how underfunded the library is or how it lags far behind in technology but they never talk about the final recommendation of the Master Plan Study which state Renton should “improve service levels as an Independent Municipal Library“. Hopefully, that is what we will be able to do, please VOTE NO on Prop 1.

Visit our sister site to get more annexation information, see more endorsements and to get information on our next meeting. Thanks so much for reading.

In the FAQ Brochure that is so frequently discussed here the City has provided  a little table on page 9 that compares the costs of providing library services with the Renton Library System and the King County Library System. Under the “Annex to KCLS” columns the city has omitted the $0.26 that is currently paid by residents for library services. Our campaign has taken issue with this from the very beginning, questioning whether or not the city will stop collecting this money if residents decide to annex to KCLS. Well, not wanting to speculate on any matter here I decided to go right to the City for an answer and here is what I found out.

A few weeks ago I sent an email to the City…

“currently residents pay $0.26 in property taxes and other taxes to fund the library. If voters decide to annex to KCLS it is assumed that residents will no longer have to pay this $0.26 in taxes any longer. How does this translate to tax payers, how and where will they see these savings? Will their property taxes be decreased in any way? How will the savings that are promised by annexing to KCLS be given back to tax payers.”

Marty Wine, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, was so kind as to get back to me with this response…

“The short answer: those decisions haven’t been made and options exist. The equivalent amount of $0.26 per $1000 AV currently paid totals about $1.8 million per year, the amount of the current library operating budget. While nothing has been decided by the Administration or Council, Renton would still be responsible for replacing two facilities/library branches upon annexation to KCLS, and would need to find funds to do so. The City could use/continue the current investment we make in libraries by issuing bonds to build those two facilities and some part (we estimate perhaps $0.13) of the $0.26 per $1000 could be used to pay for debt service on those bonds for facilities over time. So it’s likely that any savings would be something less than $0.26 per $1000 if that approach was used. The City would also have the option of “giving back” all or part of the current investment to taxpayers in the form of a lower property tax levy in some future year, or an option to use those general-purpose taxes to pay for other priority city services (by either restoring services cut in 2009 or funding other services).

Please also note that costs to improve library services fall into several categories that total more than $0.26 per 1000 whether annexation to KCLS is approved or not. Remaining independent or annexing could cost residents in total from $0.59 to $0.70 per $1000. Those costs include current operations, master plan investments in programs and staffing, capital (buildings), and newly annexed areas still pay for the bonds for KCLS’ 2004 levy. So the $0.26 per $1000 is just one part of the tax burden/investments that Renton residents would need to make to modernize library services whether independent or part of KCLS.

This information request also came to us from another resident, copied here. I am available to provide any other clarifications, information or answer any further questions you have. Please just call or email for anything more you need. Thanks for your interest!”

I don’t think any further discussion is necessary at this point –

 VOTE NO ON PROP 1

The Vote No Til You Know”ers” will be meeting this Sunday, December 6th at 2pm at a Terrible Beauty Irish Pub. If you want to get involved in helping to keep our library local please come to this meeting or contact us. Turns out not too many people know about the upcoming election so we need to get the word out.

Thanks for reading and hopefully we will see you on Sunday.

The following is a blog that was posted about 3 months ago by “All About Renton” and while this blog points out some interesting facts about the library’s 2007 master plan study it also states some opinions. So, please be aware that the opinion put forth in this post may not reflect the opinion of  everyone who is trying to get the facts out about annexation to KCLS. We want to take this opprotunity again to invite anyone from KCLS to join in this annexation discussion as well as you, the residents of Renton. Feel free to comment or even submit a blog of your own telling why you think the Renton Public Library should annex to KCLS before we give our own library and city a chance to make the necessary changes and improvements.

From “All About Renton”

Back in 2007 Miriam Pollak and Associates, an independent library consulting firm, were hired by the city to do a Master Plan Study for the Renton Public Library. Being that Renton is facing a  huge crossroads with exponential population growth and newly annexed areas, the firm was hired to determine which direction the Renton Public Library should take in the next few years to deal with this new growth. Should the Renton Public Library remain an independent library or should they join the King County Library System? While I encourage all of you who are interested/concerned in a potential annexation to KCLS to read this study, at 86 pages it is anything but light reading and some may even consider it a cure for insomnia. Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to briefly tell you about the results.

The study had a great cross-section of participants – library staff, Library Board of Trustees, city administrators, focus groups that included mom’s groups, immigrants and immigrant advocate groups, school librarians and even a survey for library patrons, see complete list of participants on page 5. The panel basically said things that are to be expected, we need more stuff. More room, more computers, more materials, more staff, more programs, more more more. How could we not meed more stuff, our population size has nearly doubled in just 5 years (8)  just by that fact alone it would make sense that we need more space or spaces for our library to accommodate that growth. In addition to needing more stuff we need to get up to date with technology and this mainly means new wires so everything can be faster and there can be more of it, you know computers. Totally agree with that one too.

Miriam Pollack agreed with these concerns and actually showed that Renton significantly lags behind other libraries in the region and throughout Washington in areas of technology, collection and programs. (6, 34-6) So, how do we bring the library up to date and start serving this diverse community? Do we continue to operate as an independent library or do we join KCLS?

The independent firm that was hired to help RPL make a master plan for the next 5 years suggested that we remain independent. That’s right, based on Renton’s history of independence, local control and sense of community our library would be better off remaining independent. So why are we voting to annex to KCLS in February. My personal opinion is that it boils down to work. It is easier for someone else to determine how our library will function, better yet it is easier to know who is funding our library. Again, that is just my own opinion.

The study gives a lot of good information and even discusses the pros and cons of joining KCLS (pp. 47-8) and please know that I will be sharing all of that information with you in the coming days and weeks but I can’t make each entry a novel or you won’t read.

If you can not tell by the tone of this email I am not in favor of joining KCLS. I think Renton needs to keep local control on our library. Let’s work as a community to decide what types of new facilities we want, what new programs we design, what staff we see consistently and most importantly let’s have pride in our library. It is amazing, I don’t know of any other library that is built over a river, let alone a river where salmon swim upstream. It truly is an icon of our community and I think we should keep it.