Library Advisory Board recommends property tax to support local library

A new tax on Enumclaw property owners to support the public library has been recommended by members of the Library Advisory Board.

The small, volunteer group had opposed the city's aborted plan to push a ballot item that would have turned library operations over to the independent King County Library System. That proposal fizzled and the Library Board was recently asked to offer a definitive, alternative recommendation.

Library Director Bob Baer read the board's recommendation during the July 25 gathering of the Enumclaw City Council.

The board's written statement said members have repeatedly heard the public's desire to see library functions remain in local hands. To accomplish that, the board has recommended a levy lid lift that would allow citizens to vote on a measure that would generate another 40 cents in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property value. That would create a pot of money figured at $421,000 annually, guaranteed for the library.

The board added its desire to see the city contribute $260,000 annually from the general fund, giving the library an annual operating budget of approximately $681,000. During a presentation to council earlier this year, City Administrator Mike Thomas said $389,000 was allocated for library operations as part of the 2011 municipal budget.

Editor's note: the following is the recommendation drafted by the Library Advisory Board and forwarded to city administration and members of the Enumclaw City Council.

Since the issue of future operation of the Enumclaw Public Library was raised in the 2010 City Budget the subject has been a focus of attention. The issue of annexing to the King County Library System or remaining a municipally supported library each has their proponents. The Library Board of Trustees has sought to ask questions to gain a better understanding of the issues. To date the Board still has questions about the proposed transfer agreement, the fate of the library's general fund transfer, and details related to the libraries historical collection and special funds. More importantly, the Board has heard over and over a desire to keep the library locally controlled if at all possible.

The Enumclaw Public Library Board of Trustees does not support the current ordinance to annex the library to the King County Library System. Instead the Library Board of Trustees supports:

Local control- operation of the library remains in Enumclaw

Staffing - remains consistent to serve the community

Library collection - developed for the community

Special collection- access to historical collection is available in the library.

Trust funds - stay controlled & focused on library related projects

To accomplish remaining a municipal library the Library Board of Trustees proposes a base level of support from the City combined with a levy lid lift to return the library to a position of:

Open additional hours at prior year level of service (at least 2,760 hours per year)

Open to the public six days a week

A materials budget to continue to develop the collection for the community

The Library Board of Trustees desires a continued dialogue with the City Administration, City Council and the community in an effort to provide library service to the community.

While the position developed by the Library Board was not influenced by our public meeting June 7th it is interesting that opinions stated at the meeting reflect the Board's recommendations. Further, trend lines developed from the charts on the wall reflect the Board's recommendation.

Therefore: the Enumclaw Public Library Board of Trustees proposes a .40 cent levy per thousand, which would produce $421,000 based on an assessed value of $1,053,702,403.00. In addition, the library would need a base level of funding from the City of $260,000. Currently the transfer from the City is $447,195. The combined sum from the levy and general fund would be approximately $681,000 and enable the library to provide improved services. In addition, the Enumclaw Public Library Board of Trustees asks the City Administration and Council to act on the Board's recommendation as soon as possible.

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