EDITOR’S NOTE: Annexation wins; let’s now move on

Welcome to Renton, King County Library System. To those who wanted to pull the welcome mat, it’s time to move on. The results of the Feb. 9 election, while close, still reflect the will of the people. The decision to give up a nearly 100-year-old library system should have been agonizing.

Welcome to Renton, King County Library System.

To those who wanted to pull the welcome mat, it’s time to move on. The results of the Feb. 9 election, while close, still reflect the will of the people. The decision to give up a nearly 100-year-old library system should have been agonizing.

Yes, the city could have used more care in what figures it used to compare the cost to Renton residents to maintain their own library or to annex to KCLS.

The city wasn’t intentionally trying to mislead the public. It’s apparent to me that officials regret that error. Still, I am sure the city will use more care as it explains future annexations, including the big one, Fairwood.

Nor did the city overstep the line and actually promote the annexation to KCLS in any of its literature, according to the Public Disclosure Commission. That tone was set when the City Council opted not to take a position on annexation, deferring to voters instead.

So, now comes the threat of a lawsuit against the City of Renton by Save Our Renton Library, a group which opposed annexation. You’ve heard the word “specious?” It means, according to Webster, “seeming to be good, sound, correct, logical, etc., without being so.”

That adjective applies to the argument Save The Renton Library is using to perhaps try to convince a judge to overturn the election results because of the city’s inaccurate information. It would be a sad day for our state and its electoral process if a judge usurped the will of the people because of a specious argument.

Besides, the PDC, the right agency to rule on the appropriateness of election-related literature, has twice stood by the city’s material.

“It appeared to be a fair and objective presentation of facts,” PDC spokesperson Lori Anderson told our reporter, Celeste Gracey.

The reality was that the “new” figures didn’t substantially change the basic premise that the costs were roughly the same, based on a particular set of assumptions. A key assumption was that Renton residents would need a new levy to make much-needed library improvements sometime in the future.

Also in reality Renton residents will pay more for library services from KCLS, because voters already in KCLS on Feb. 9 raised the operations levy to support KCLS by 8 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

But in return they’ll get a lot more in services and books. And, frankly, they will get a viable library system and more value for their property-tax dollars.

The City of Renton was poised to begin making $250,000 in cuts starting March 1 if the annexation had failed. That would have included laying off library staff and possibly even closing the Highlands branch at some point.

On March 1, KCLS began moving quickly to add staff, programs and hours.

The fight is over.


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