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City rebukes allegation public was not involved in library process

NOTE: The following was written and submitted by City Administrator Mike Thomas.

The Enumclaw Library Annexation Proposal – Public Process Was Not Averted

It is understandable that the debate over how best to preserve library services here in Enumclaw should reach a very passionate level, however, it is not understandable how anyone associated with the debate can make the proclamation that there was no public process.  The future of the Enumclaw Library has been formally discussed by the City now for 2 years.  Clearly, the City’s decision to put before the voters of Enumclaw the option of becoming a part of the King County Library System (“KCLS”) didn’t occur overnight and it didn’t occur absent discussion (and action) by the City Council and Library Board.

Looking back, the public record on the library issue shows that much has happened in order to get to this point; the eve of the April 17th election.  In 2010 KCLS staff met with the Library Board and with the City Council’s Community Services Committee to discuss the possibility of annexation and KCLS library services.  The 2011 budget process which occurred during the last several months of 2010 included discourse regarding the future of the library and the possible (though later abated) attempt at an April 2011 special election.  In February and March of 2011, KCLS human resource staff met with City library staff and through an interactive process generated employment information so that each current library staff employee, should they except employment with KCLS, would know exactly the position they would be transferred to, the pay scale and afforded benefits.

On June 7, 2011, the Library Board held an all day ‘Library Information Day’ where citizens could come and ask questions regarding library services and voice their opinions regarding future library service.  A month later, the Library Board issued a written recommendation dated July 13, 2011 - in summary the Enumclaw Library Board argued for local control, passage of a levy and operating funds from the City’s general fund.  The written recommendation was transmitted to and presented at a City Council meeting.

The merits of the Library Board’s recommendation were weighed in late 2011 through the Council’s 2012 budget workshop process.  The decision to move toward to an April 2012 specialelection and the source of funding to be used in 2012 was debated and discussed in open Council session on several occasions.

Between February and March 2012 the City Council passed no less than four (4) distinct resolutions specific to the proposed annexation of the Enumclaw Library to the King County Library System.  The resolutions, all passed in open session where public testimony is provided for, represented the culmination of a long public discourse regarding the future disposition of the Enumclaw Library.

Recently, on March 5, 2012 the City Council held a workshop in part dedicated to the long term financial impacts of library annexation on the City’s general fund and city tax payers.

Public process existed for the library issue as it exists for any issue which comes before Council. The public is afforded an opportunity to voice their opinions at every Council meeting –both at the beginning of the meeting and at the end. Further, public comment and participation is allowed for at any of the City’s standing committee and board meetings; this includes the monthly Library Board meetings.

Whether one chooses to participate in the City’s public process regarding a specific issue such as library annexation is of course up to that individual.  Whether one agrees with the City’s determination on a given issue is again unique to the individual.  However, what is common to all individuals (citizens, property tax payers, etc.) is the public process – it exists here in the City of Enumclaw whether people choose to participate in it or not.

Information particular to the proposed annexation to KCLS can be found on the City’s website at http://cityofenumclaw.net.

Michael Thomas

City Administrator

City of Enumclaw

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