Letters to the Editor

Times have changed and it is time to vote for the King County Library annexation | Letter

Editor's note : The following letter is a pro-statement rebuttal of the March 12th library annexation letter written by Una Waldron, JoAn McKinlay and Charles Sansone.

Times have changed. We live in a different world from the time when Enumclaw opened its library back in the 1920s. Emotionally, I can understand the desire to hold on to the old and familiar. Rationally, holding onto our library doesn’t make sense anymore. The city is strapped for funds and may have to close the library if the King County Library System (KCLS) annexation vote fails on April 17th.

Unfortunately, we can’t afford to operate the library and also have adequate police protection and keep our streets from deteriorating. We all would like to be able to offer to the residents of Enumclaw the level of service of KCLS at their tax rate, but we can’t compete with their system.

Back in June 2011, the city council got a letter of recommendation from the Library Board. In that letter the Board made a recommendation to fund the library with a property tax rate of 40 cents per $1,000 plus $260,000 from the general fund to restore it to pre-cut levels. In actual total dollar amounts, that is equivalent of about 65 cents per $1,000 property valuation. Using a very simple cost/benefit analysis, KCLS would give the citizens of Enumclaw better service and longer hours for a maximum of 50 cents per $1,000 valuation. The council did listen to the Library Board – they weren’t ignored. That’s the primary reason the council chose to continue with the KCLS annexation vote.

Remember, please, that the council had been studying this issue for over a year. Contrary to what the authors of the March 12th letter stated, the council did listen to the arguments of those opposed to KCLS annexation. The City Council did practice due diligence. The library director at the time was not kept silent nor was he kept out of the decision making process. I know this because I was one of the members of the City Council at the time.

The City Council just passed a resolution with a 6-0 vote stating they would not give the money out of the general fund back to the taxpayers if the KCLS annexation passes. The reason is because your elected council knows that city revenue is drying up. Based on this year’s budget, there is no money for fixing the streets. The money used to fund the library this year is coming from a reserve property fund. That funding will end in December. The harsh reality is that the city can no longer fund the library and maintain core services properly. The harsh reality is that the city can’t function by giving the library money back to the taxpayers and the council knows it.

I do know that at least three council members have stated the library will close if the KCLS annexation vote fails. It’s a painful but harsh possibility. If the levy fails and the library is closed, we have no way to have access to KCLS. They don’t sell library cards. The city web site of frequently asked questions states this information.

Fact: The city of Renton did not impose an unexpected levy on the property owners of their city. KCLS annexation was offered along with the statement the city would fund two new library buildings. This was a city decision by elected officials, not KCLS. This information was put in the voter information packet, voted on, and passed by a majority of Renton voters. I know because I called up the city administrator of Renton and the KCLS director and asked them. No tax was imposed without a vote of the population.

Times change. What worked for 94 years isn’t working anymore. I urge you to vote yes for KCLS on April 17th.

 

Richard Elfers

Chair/Pro-statement Committee

Enumcmlaw

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