City discussing transfer of public library

As the struggling economy has continued to challenge Enumclaw’s operating budget, the city has wondered aloud if it would be beneficial to transfer operation of its public library to the county system.

That talk was expected to turn to action Monday night, when members of the City Council addressed a resolution aimed at kicking off formal discussions with the King County Library System.

City Administrator Mike Thomas said the formal maneuver matches the system’s protocol. The city asks that negotiations begin, then the library system will formally decide if it wants to initiate talks.

The issue is purely financial.

The city has long operated a library of its own, while other small King County communities have relied on the county system. But it also has been noted the large library system might be able to offer the same services for a lesser price.

Thomas said the difference could be as much as $100,000 annually.

The resolution on Monday’s council agenda states, “the City’s ability to fund library services in recent years has been placed in jeopardy due to a number of factors including limited financial resou8rces.”

Money to operate the library comes primarily from the city’s general fund, which also pays for things like police and fire protection. The fund has been stretched thin and financial projections aren’t encouraging.

The council resolution also notes that city administration should act quickly on the matter, so the issue can make its way to a ballot in 2011. For the county system to take over management of the Enumclaw library, city voters would have to agree to annex into the district.

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