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Library fate still on City Council agenda

Discussions during the most recent meeting of the Enumclaw City Council show the fate of the local library remains a hot-button issue.

Citizens were to have voted Tuesday on a proposal to turn library operations over to the King County Library District. After voting to place the item on the ballot, councilmen reversed course and pulled the issue off the ballot, citing insufficient details.

During the April 11 council meeting, City Administrator Mike Thomas noted staff was “continuing to live under Resolution 1396,” which spelled out the city’s desire to look at joining the independent library district.

Councilman Sean Krebs then noted his desire to repeal 1396, rather than simply amending the resolution to reflect a date in 2012.

Councilman Rich Elfers wondered aloud if that would send a negative message to the district. “It seems like we would be changing course,” Elfers said, noting the district may then shy away from dealing with the city in the future.

In the end, Councilman Jeff Beckwith offered a successful motion to alter Resolution 1396 so the reference to a 2011 ballot measure in changed to “the future.”

Also, city administration was directed to work with the Library Advisory Board to put together a public meeting where all sides could discuss the issue and offer alternatives for operation of the cash-strapped library.

That second step was taken after Krebs noted he’s heard strong sentiment for developing options to keep the library operation local. Councilman Jim Hogan indicated he wanted a session where everyone could talk freely, rather than simply hearing comments during council meetings.

As of Monday, a public meeting had not been scheduled.

Before the council had addressed the library issue, several citizens had stepped forward to state their opinions. Included in the group were Jim Barchek and Charlie Sansone, both members of the Library Advisory Board, although Sansone stressed he was speaking as a private citizen. Sansone asked the city to keep the library local, Barchek implored that all options be examined and local businessman Tom Poe also urged that the library remain in local hands.

Following council action, Library Board member Fred Fleishman reminded everyone the board has had a formal position from the state – a desire to see the city look at all alternatives for library funding before jumping to a vote on King County Library System annexation.

Cate Underbrink, a member of Friends of the Enumclaw Library, reminded council members there’s more to the library than dollars and cents.

“As elected officials, you’re not just here to crunch numbers,” she said. “You’re here to make our community better.”

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