Yesterday the City of Renton was forced to issue a press release that informed voters the City had miscalculated the cost of remaining independent in the FAQ Booklet that was made available to voters. This information was also dispersed in the City’s utility bill so there is a lot of “miscalculated” information floating around out there. I wanted to make a few comments about the cost comparison.

First of all, the re-configured numbers should show that the cost of remaining independent and making library improvements is significantly cheaper then annexing to KCLS. In my opinion the City should have shown voters the cost of annexation should the other Prop 1 pass. In their table they only show the cost of the $0.42 KCLS operations levy which makes the cost of annexation $0.59 per $1,000. If the other Prop 1 passes the cost for annexation with a $0.50 operations levy would be $0.67 per $1,000. By now you know that we love to point out the fact that you will still be paying the City of Renton the $0.21 that funds the library right now so your total cost in taxes is $0.88 per $1,000. The cost to improve funding of the Renton Library and build new facilities is $0.60 per $1,000 based on the City’s new calculations.

Not only is that a savings to voters we also get to keep total local control of our library, our library staff does not have to “cluster” and the City of Renton will keep ownership of the new library buildings and all the materials inside. Mayor Law stated that the corrected figures don’t make either option more affordable then the other but that is just not the case.

Those in favor of annexation say that Renton residents will never vote on a levy to increase library funding let alone build new buildings but to that I ask then why would they vote to annex to KCLS? A vote to annex to KCLS is a vote for A NEW TAX. Property tax, levy, bond – I don’t care what you call it, a tax is a tax.

Renton voters do not be fooled. Annexation is not the answer for the future of the Renton public library. In fact it is the worst thing that could happen to our libraries.

Keep Renton Libraries and your tax dollars where they belong – in Renton.

Vote No on Prop 1

After I went back and read the KCLS fact sheet again I saw that they said “there is a lot of misinformation being propagated among opponents of joining KCLS.” It took a few minutes but it really started to bug me because throughout this whole campaign we have tried to bring the voters the facts and I think we have done a good job of it. So, with that being said I will comment on a few more of the “facts” that Renton For KCLS Now has on their webpage – one of which was corrected today.

MYTH: KCLS will take over ownership of the existing Main Branch over the Cedar River and the Highlands branch Library buildings.

The “Vote No” campaign has never stated that the current library facilities would be owned by KCLS. We have continuously pointed out the fact that when new library facilities are built the taxpayers of Renton will pay for these buildings and then the City will turn ownership of these buildings over to KCLS. KCLS does not deny that the City will have to pay for these new buildings or the fact that they will be the owners of buildings they did not have to pay for.

MYTH: Current Renton Library staff would lose their jobs.

We have never stated that Renton Library Staff would lose their jobs after annexation. We have wondered about the future of positions that would be redudant with current KCLS staff but there is so much uncertainity in that we have not brought it up.  We have however stated how things will change for Renton library staff. Here are a few examples

  • A loss of benefits for spouses and dependent children
  • A loss of seniority – a lot of Renton Library Staff have worked for the library over 10 years, some over 20 years
  • A loss of contribution to deferred retirement plan
  • Loss of sick and vacation time
  • Renton Library Staff would be “clustered”

It seems unfortunate that an organization with an operating budget of over $90M can not provide a compensation package that is comparable to the one our own City can  to our library staff that has served our community so well.

I just want to say this here, in tough economic times I am sure the library staff, like every other employed person out there, is grateful that they have a job. But it is tough to hear that the City of Renton cares about their employees while favoring annexation.

One more for now…

MYTH: If Renton Libraries stay independent the quality of our facilities and services will remain, at minimum, equal to the current levels.

Renton For KCLS Now is great, they follow this statement with “Fact: If nothing is done to change the current funding model”, the thing to note here is “if nothing is done”. Well, whether we annex to KCLS or remain independent in the future something will be done to change the current funding model and we will make sure of that.

Stay tuned there is more to come in the KCLS “Fact” series.

This week the Save The Renton Library group made an amazing presentation at the City Council meeting. If you are a Renton resident you can watch it on Channel 21 or if you have a fast computer you can watch it here.

However, if these are not an option then you should head over to the Save The Renton Library website and checkout the 6-page presentation, if it does not convince you that annexation is not the right move for Renton I don’t know what will.

While you are there make sure you check out the endorsements list and read a few things that people are saying about the library.

It is not too late to get involved in the fight to keep the Renton Public Library local, use the contact form below to find out how you can help. Thanks so much and remember to Vote No on Prop 1!

My husband and I are 35 year residents concerned about the proposed annexation of Renton Library by KCLS. I’ve been studying the Renton annexation brochure and I find two glaring inconsistencies.

Renton City Council tries to make the point for annexation in their example of “Comparative Household Costs” on page 7 without mentioning the third possibility. That’s Renton Library continuing as is until the master plan can be implemented, continuing the reciprocal use agreement with KCLS. That figure would be .26, not .65 as shown. There would be no tax increase.

In that same brochure it’s stated that although KCLS would take over library operations, buying land and paying for new buildings or improvements would be Renton’s responsibility. Under “Would Renton Library Facilities Close?” Renton’s annexation brochure states, “In the future (2011 or later), the City of Renton and KCLS would develop and construct replacement facilities for both branches in the locations to be acquired by the city.” Then it continues “The city would be responsible for the cost of development and construction of both branches”. We taxpayers still have to pay for these improvements regardless of who implements them, and we’d have no direct control over costs.

After researching the issue I find that the annexation proposal was entered into when Fairwood expressed concerns about losing their KCLS branch (which would not occur) if they were annexed. It seems to be driven by Renton’s desire to annex another tax area, not really by the good of Renton citizens as a whole.

After careful study I don’t believe it will benefit me as a taxpayer to vote yes on annexation for several reasons.

1. Any new library grounds and building will still have to be paid for by the citizens of Renton – as spelled out in the City’s own brochure. We’d pay but KCLS would oversee the project. If I have to pay for the construction costs of the new facilities anyway, I would just as soon retain control over costs by funding the Renton Library Master Plan.

2. The Renton Annexation brochure says, “Ownership of the new library properties and buildings would be transferred to KCLS after construction.” Would the city be repaid for costs incurred? Would the buildings and improvements be transferred at the original estimated cost? At the actual cost of construction or at Fair Market Value? Who would make the valuation?

3. I was curious so I checked the state audit conducted for the KCLS building plan and found that there were cost overruns and not enough planning or oversight. I don’t really see a benefit to funding badly managed construction for KCLS out of my own pocket. http://www.sao.wa.gov/auditreports/auditreportfiles/ar1001408.pdf

4. Renton citizens would have their assessment for KCLS increased if Proposition 1 passes with no guarantee of new construction or better service. KCLS has already cut their operating budget for this year and will have to cut again if Prop 1 doesn’t pass. This doesn’t make me feel very secure about the annexation. What guarantee do we have that library service will continue with the same high quality, or continue at all? What would prevent KCLS from moving library services to Fairwood only, or Skyway, to consolidate and save money once they gain control? See http://www.kcls.org/prop1/

5. Take a look at the general fund summaries on pages 9 and 10 of the KCLS proposed 2010 budget and you can see where budgetary cuts have been made – land and building have been cut completely. How does KCLS propose to fund improvements for Renton when they have to make severe budget cuts if Prop 1 doesn’t pass? If Renton Library was to continue underfunded, as is, and the City were to pay the fee to KCLS for reciprocal borrowing, this would cost the taxpayers of Renton far less than the current proposal. Unless of course KCLS and the city don’t intend to fund improvements at all in 2010 or beyond, in which case the citizens won’t have to pay for land and buildings. And, the citizens are back to the same position they’d be in with the Renton Library continuing as is underfunded. In that case there’s no point to annexation.

At this point, due to these inconsistencies, and budgetary constraints admitted to by KCLS, I have strong doubts that annexation will benefit the taxpayers of Renton. It looks to me like it will cost us money, restrict our options and lower the quality of library service.

Beth Asher

We know that KCLS is able to provide a lot of bells and whistles that Renton Library cannot, such as free printing, and tons of research databases, and a larger overall collection that’s great for filling hold requests, etc. But what Renton Library provides is a community service with familiar staff members who are able to directly address patrons’ requests and needs. With the current reciprocal borrowing agreement, King County residents, including Renton residents, can have both a Renton Library card AND a King County card. This way, they can have the best of BOTH worlds, a community library with a small-town feel, and access to the nearest KCLS branch for a larger collection of items and services. Right now, Renton citizens have CHOICES! Annexation eliminates that choice.

Submitted by Marice on November 24th

Hello Library Lovers!

I am a Library Lover. I think Renton Residents should VOTE NO on the KCLS ANNEXATION. Why????

Well, watch this blog. Ask us your questions. KCLS, please, please answer our questions, which so far we’ve found elusive. The Renton City Council in voting 6-1 to put the issue up to the voters, individually said they were concerned about the treatment of the current Library Staff. So far, their is intrigue as to who is holding up negotions with the KCLS Union and Renton’s 2170 Union. This blog will post all available public information as soon as it is available.

No doubt there will be a pro-annexation-to-KCLS campaign. Equal time and space will be give to each side. THAT IS THE GOAL OF THIS CAMPAIGN: ALL FACTS AVAILABLE TO THE VOTERS.

Get all facts. And Please VOTE. Feb. 3, 2010.

Thanks for reading!

Marcie