Letters to the Editor

Presenting the facts about the King County Library annexation vote | Letter

The Enumclaw City Council studied the KCLS annexation for over a year. The council listened to the board recommendation. The city had an open house to listen to public concerns. The council held public hearings. The council decided as a result of a carefully thought-out cost/benefit analysis to put the issue to the vote of the public. The statement in opposition to Proposition No. 1 to KCLS annexation and several letters to the editor have some glaring errors and misunderstandings of how representative democracy works in the city.

Error: “City administration sees it (the library) as nonessential and underfunds the library.”

Fact: The big picture is that city revenue sources have been drying up and cuts have had to be made. City funds are not available. The city started the cutting process in the 2009 budget by laying off 11 employees. In the 2010 and 2011 budgets the administration and council have had to cut about $600,000/year to balance the budget. In the 2012 budget year, the library was not funded from the general fund.

It was financed for one year only out of a reserve property fund that came from the sale of property on Battersby and Stevenson.

Funding for long-term street maintenance and for an additional police officer were also not included in the 2012 budget. In effect, the council set the priority to keep the library open for a year over hiring another police officer and maintaining our streets. So in that sense, the council saw the library as more essential than police or streets at least for 2012.

The writers of the con statement do not understand that the mayor and city administrator only propose the yearly budget, they don’t pass it. That is the job of the city council members who are elected by the voters. They get paid under $4,000 per year for many hours of service to the city. It’s service, not salary, that motivates them.

Error: It has been stated in several letters to the editor that the council did not listen to the Library Board or allow public testimony.

Fact: The council’s decision to put the issue of KCLS annexation before voters was based upon a letter from the Library Board to the council (See the Library Board Letter on FAQs on the city website.) The council compared the 40 cents per $1,000 assessed property value plus $260,000 from the general fund, equaling about 65 cents per$1,000 that was recommend by the Library Board and decided that it was far cheaper with better service to go with KCLS.

Error: Enumclaw is classified as a “‘small district’ with no guarantee levied taxes will all return to our library.”

Fact: Because Enumclaw is a “small community” we are likely to be getting more money from richer areas like Mercer Island and Bellevue than we will pay. Under terms of the transfer agreement with KCLS, the library will remain open for 50 years. If, for some reason KCLS decides to close it, the city will get the building back.

Read it on the city web site www.cityofenumclaw.net under “Library Annexation Information.”

Error: The city will find some way to fund the library.

Fact: The choice about whether to keep the library open after 2012 is up to the council. Three have already stated they will close the library if the vote fails.

To say that the council did not listen to the Library Board nor follow an open democratic process is simply not true. The council was right. Voting yes for KCLS is the best choice.

Richard Elfers

Former city council member

and chairman of the

Pro-statement Committee

 

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