Written by Library Lover – you know who you are…

Taxes and Funding Questions(So Far)
• Prior to the Benson Hill Annexation, Renton spent less per resident for library operations than does KCLS ($22 per resident for Renton versus $62 per resident for KCLS). (http://www.rentonwa.gov/uploadedFiles/Government/AJLS/Annexation/anxn%20summary.pdf). Renton libraries have been underfunded for many years, which is largely the reason a Library Master Plan was commissioned and presented to City administrators and the City Council in 2008. This is also why, after over 100 years of independent library services, annexation is now up for consideration. (Renton’s current city budget supports library services at about 24 cents per $1000 of the city’s assessed valuation). More and better library services are unquestionably needed, and to provide those, additional funding for the library is necessary. Renton voters must understand that they are going to have to pay a higher tax regardless of whether Renton Libraries annex to KCLS or not if they wish to have improved library services.

• Renton Library currently pays several hundred thousand dollars for a reciprocal borrowing agreement to KCLS based on a cross-use study done in 2007. The cross use study is on a cost per item basis. Because the Renton library is more cost-efficient in their processing of materials, KCLS spends more per item than Renton Library does making the fairness of the study questionably one-sided.

• The costs to Renton taxpayers for library services from either system would likely be roughly the same. A comparison chart is available at http://rentonwa.gov/living/default.aspx?id=26505#Q14 If the library were to stay independent (as recommended by the master plan study) and Renton and KCLS continued their reciprocal borrowing agreement allowing residents to use both systems, is there really an advantage to annexing to KCLS? It would seem to be more advantageous to maintain an independent community library with the added ability to use the larger KCLS services and resources when desired……allowing patrons to benefit from the best of both worlds, so to speak.

• The information that has been distributed thus far DOES NOT include any information about future new library buildings, and that discussion will not be included in the upcoming February election. That will be a separate bond measure and a separate election. Regardless of whether the library system is annexed to KCLS or stays independent, it is agreed that new facilities will be needed. KCLS will be the primary decision-maker on any new facilities. According to the Master Plan study, if Renton Library is annexed, “services and facilities will follow a model developed for county wide library services rather than tailored specifically for Renton.” How much input will Renton residents have in where the new facilities will be located, how big the buildings will be, what the buildings will look like, what services and resources will be provided, etc.? What will be the timeline for new facilities?

• At the same time Renton voters are deciding whether or not to annex to KCLS, KCLS is presenting King County voters (outside of Renton) with Proposition 1 to restore the King County Library System’s (KCLS) property tax levy rate to 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for collection in 2011. Because of the timing of this ballot measure, Renton voters will not get to vote on this proposition (taxation without representation). If Renton tax payers voted to join KCLS, by state law their maximum library tax rate would be 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. (This is $100 per year on a $200,000 home and would provide KCLS services for all residents of the dwelling.) Current KCLS library tax rate is below 40 cents per $1000 and declining because of the 1% cap on property tax levies (the 1% cap was voted permanent by the Legislature in late November 2007).