Looking at the King County Elections webpage there are still over 30,000 ballots out.

Go get your ballot, mark “NO” and put it in the mail or run it over to the box.

Your vote counts and we need it to make sure that Renton Public Library stays Independent.

Thanks so much for your votes and your support.

In the glossy trifold mailer that some Renton voters received there is some information that paints a rather doomsday situation for the Renton Public Library should the voters decide to remain independent. Well, here at the Vote No and Save Renton Library campaign we are committed to providing all of the information to voters so they can make informed decisions. Let’s look at some of the scare tactics this trifold mailer has used….

“If we fail to annex to KCLS, the city will be forced to cut Library services, reduce branch and staff hours, and face the possibility of facility closures and staff reduction.” That sounds pretty dire but let’s look at what is really going to happen effective March 2010 should the Renton Public Library remain independent. The following information is from Bette Anderson Library Director.

If voters decide to keep the Renton Public Library independent there will  be some budget cuts for the year 2010, the total amount cut out of the budget will be around $220,000 for the year.

Yes, there will be cuts to library hours but there is nothing in the information that Bette gave me that states either facility will have to close. Branch hours for the Main Branch would be reduced by 10 hours a week and the Highlands Branch would be reduced by 8 hours per week. Please keep in mind that these reductions in open hours are temporary.

“If Prop 1 fails staff will be cut effective March 1st”. This is another very misleading statement from the pro-annexation campaign. No full-time staff members will be losing their jobs. Six part-time employees will be eliminated – 1 librarian intern, 1 clerk and 4 pages. There will be reduced hours for 4 part-time positions and funding for substitutes and vacation relief will be cut.

Other cuts for the year include a reduction in the budget for library materials. This budget will be cut by 30% and regional courier service will be eliminated. This means that the library will have less money to order additional high-demand items which could lead to longer wait times or more referrals to other libraries. The cut in courier service means changes to the Interlibrary Loan process, some items may not be available since some libraries may not ship items through the mail. There has been a complete loss of funding for staff travel and training and a cut of 75% for paid performers for children’s programs.

Again all of these changes are temporary. During these tough economic times we are seeing reductions in services across the board and the library is no different. We realize that these budget reductions are an inconvenience and once the election results have been verified we can start working on a plan to get the library funding to the level it needs to be. Reinstating Friends of the Library, pending approval by Bette Anderson, is just the beginning of that process for the community.

Let’s not forget that KCLS has its own Prop 1 out there right now and if they do not get the additional funding from voters they have said that they will be forced to make similar budget cuts, “In 2009, KCLS cut $1.9 million out of the operating budget for materials (books, magazines, DVDs, books on tape, etc.), technology, administration and facility maintenance. In addition, KCLS sought private funding to support a number of programs and services. KCLS now needs to ask voters to restore the library levy rate for one year to 50 cents per $1,000 assessed value, to be collected in 2011. The restored revenue will enable KCLS to preserve the current level of library service, programs and resources at all 44 libraries, and maintain outreach services to community centers, low-income daycare facilities, and to the elderly and homebound.” From the KCLS website.

You see noone is immune to the current economic situation so don’t give up on the Renton Public Library – Vote No on Prop 1!

There are a lot of us out there who are not “numbers people. However, the Save Renton Library campaign is lucky to have a “numbers” guy on hand but he would never admit that – he would just say he is a conservative. Anyways, Renton Ben asked the City of Renton to re-examine the numbers that they presented to voters when the annexation discussion started.

Check out Randy Corman’s Blog  for the complete discussion.

Renton Ben is responsible for this press release that was given today by the City of Renton. For me this information is amazing, the price comparison is astounding please go and read for yourself.

At this point I feel like there needs to be a little clarification regarding our group and our mission.

Those people who are in favor of annexation to KCLS have painted this real “doomsday” scenario for the Renton Public Library. They would have voters believe that if the Renton Public Library does not annex to KCLS our beloved library is going to crumble into the Cedar River the day after the election.

Our group has never denied the fact that the Renton Public Library is underfunded or that it has been underfunded for years, we know that. One of our biggest complaints about the annexation vote is that Renton residents were never given a chance to improve the library funding on their own. Now it would appear that Renton residents have only one choice – annex into KCLS or have library funding remain at the current level.

Save Renton Library and the Vote No campaign are both well aware that funding for the Renton Public Library needs to be increased and we want to work with the City to see that happens in a manner that benefits Renton not KCLS.

Up to this point our focus has been defeating Prop 1 and I think part of our message has been lost. Saving the Renton Public Library is just the first part of this movement that so many people have worked hard to create. After the election is over you are going to see this movement work hard to reinstate Friends of the Library and work with City Council to introduce a bond measure that benefits the library and is cost effective for Renton taxpayers – this is just the beginning.

So, please don’t think that the Save Renton Library and Vote No Til You Know group is not in this for the long haul. This is just the first step of a movement to keep the Renton Public Library local, independent and up to date.

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.