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Final hurdles cleared on way to library vote in Enumclaw

Three hurdles on the way to a decision on library annexation were cleared last week, setting the stage for an April 17 citywide vote.

At issue is whether Enumclaw citizens will retain ownership of their public library or turn operations over to the King County Library System.

Near the close of the Feb. 27 gathering of the Enumclaw City Council, City Administrator Mike Thomas noted two steps had been taken that day in Seattle. First, members of the King County Council formally instructed the county’s Records and Elections Department to prepare the Enumclaw library issue for the April ballot. Also Monday, the King County Library System’s board affirmed Enumclaw’s request for annexation, should the April 17 vote be affirmative.

The local step in the process came Monday night when council members named the four people who will be responsible for writing the “pro” and “con” statements that will appear in the Voters Pamphlet. Thomas said the city solicited volunteers from a list of citizens who had expressed an opinion about annexation during the past year.

Forwarded to Records and Elections were Rich Elfers, Richard Hughes and Barbara Braun, who will draft the pro-annexation statement, and Charles Sansone, who will write the opposing view.

The city will take no formal role in creating either the pro or con statements.

The library has remained a hot-button issue in Enumclaw in recent years. The council has chipped away at funding, resulting in decreased staffing and curtailed hours of operation. The library has traditionally been supported through the city’s general fund, but the money to keep the library operating in 2012 was pulled from a pot of cash generated by property sales and lease arrangements. It is seen as a one-time source of funds.

If annexation is approved in April, a transfer of management would begin during the following couple of months. According to terms of an arrangement already agreed upon, the King County Library System would take ownership and responsibility for the library building, the grounds immediately surrounding the brick structure and the connected parking lots. It is a 50-year agreement and, should the district stop using the building for library purposes, ownership would revert to the city.

There are financial implications for city residents. If annexation is approved, Enumclaw property owners would, in January 2013, begin paying taxes to the library district in the sum of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. That means an additional $125 on the annual tax bill for the owner of property assessed at $250,000.

 

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