Lot to do before annexation vote

A long list of details need to be ironed out between now and April 26, the day Enumclaw voters will decide if they want to annex into the King County Library System.

The city has supported its own library since the early 1920s, but dwindling financial resources have taken a toll on many aspects of Enumclaw’s municipal budget. And perhaps none has been hit as hard as the library, where staff has been reduced, hours of operation have been curtailed and, this year, no money was allocated for new resources.

As a result, the city has, for a couple of years, kicked around the idea of handing library operations to the county system. In King County, only Seattle and Enumclaw operate their own libraries; all others have joined the KCLS.

Members of the Enumclaw City Council decided Jan. 24 to let voters make the call. A simple majority vote in April will take the library out of the city’s hands and turn things over to the countywide system, which already operates 46 libraries.

City Administrator Mike Thomas said all aspects of the arrangements should be hammered out during the weeks to come. Certain details have already been talked about, but there are still many items on the table.

It has been stated that, if the library operation switches to the county system, all current employees will be retained. Additionally, it has been noted the KCLS would likely keep the Enumclaw branch open 63 hours per week; currently, the city operates on a 43-hour schedule.

To help with the decision-making process, the city has pledged to sponsor an open house in March. Also, the county system typically offers some educational materials leading up to election day.

The proposal to join the King County Library System is getting early opposition from a credible source – members of the Enumclaw Library Board. While the group has not officially gone on the record, at least of couple of members have voiced their displeasure with the thought of joining the county system. Most complaints center around the idea that the city hasn’t adequately explored all its financial options for keeping the library healthy and locally-operated.

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