Pathway to Sustainable Libraries: Walla Walla County, WA
Ruth Metz Associates June 25, 2011 Final Draft Report
CONSULTANT’S NOTE ............................................................................................................. 4 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ........................................................................................................... 5
THE PROJECT .......................................................................................................................................... 5 THE PLAYERS .......................................................................................................................................... 5 MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY .............................................................................................................. 6 WHAT STAKEHOLDERS WANT .............................................................................................................. 6 KEY FINDINGS CONCERNING SUSTAINABILITY ................................................................................. 6 OPTIMUM MODEL .................................................................................................................................... 8 ROLE OF WALNET ................................................................................................................................... 8 WWPL AND RLD INTERDEPENDENCE.................................................................................................. 9 CONTRACT PAYMENT TERMS .............................................................................................................. 9 TRANSITION PLAN .................................................................................................................................. 9 RECOMMENDATIONS ............................................................................................................................. 9
THE PROJECT .........................................................................................................................11
THE CLIENT ............................................................................................................................................ 11 THE PROJECT CHARGE ....................................................................................................................... 11 WALNET SERVICE AREA ...................................................................................................................... 11 THE PROJECT STAKEHOLDERS ......................................................................................................... 12
THE PLAYERS .........................................................................................................................12
THE CITY AND THE WALLA WALLA PUBLIC LIBRARY ...................................................................... 12 THE WALLA WALLA COUNTY RURAL LIBRARY DISTRICT ............................................................... 13 TOWN OF WAITSBURG ......................................................................................................................... 14 TOWN OF PRESCOTT ........................................................................................................................... 15 WALLA WALLA COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND LIBRARY..................................................................... 15 WALNET .................................................................................................................................................. 15 COLUMBIA COUNTY RURAL LIBRARY DISTRICT .............................................................................. 16
KEY ISSUES RELATED TO SUSTAINABILITY ........................................................................16
DECREASE IN LIBRARY FUNDING ...................................................................................................... 17 CONFLICT OVER CONTRACT BETWEEN THE CITY OF WALLA WALLA AND THE RLD ................ 23 LACK OF LIBRARY SERVICES: COLLEGE PLACE ............................................................................. 26 CONFUSION ABOUT WALNET ............................................................................................................. 28 COMPLEX POLICIES: THE WALNET LIBRARY CARD ........................................................................ 29 $135 NON-RESIDENT FEE AT WWPL .................................................................................................. 32
OPTIONS FOR FUNDING PUBLIC LIBRARIES IN WASHINGTON .........................................33 OPTIONS FOR LIBRARY FUNDING IN WALLA WALLA COUNTY ..........................................35 RECOMMENDED MODEL: ANNEXATION TO THE RURAL LIBRARY DISTRICT...................36
ADVANTAGES ........................................................................................................................................ 36 DISADVANTAGES .................................................................................................................................. 37 GOVERNANCE ....................................................................................................................................... 37 FUNDING ................................................................................................................................................ 37 ISSUES ................................................................................................................................................... 39
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THE ANNEXATION PROCESS .............................................................................................................. 41 ANNEXATION AGREEMENT ................................................................................................................. 42
REGIONAL LIBRARY MODEL ..................................................................................................43
ADVANTAGES ........................................................................................................................................ 43 DISADVANTAGES .................................................................................................................................. 44 GOVERNANCE ....................................................................................................................................... 44 ISSUES ................................................................................................................................................... 45 FUNDING ................................................................................................................................................ 45
CONTRACTUAL MODELS .......................................................................................................46
ADVANTAGES ........................................................................................................................................ 47 DISADVANTAGES .................................................................................................................................. 47 ISSUES ................................................................................................................................................... 47 FUNDING ................................................................................................................................................ 48 ALTERNATIVE CONTRACTUAL MODEL .............................................................................................. 49 WALNET AND ITS INTER-LOCAL AGREEMENT ................................................................................. 50
WALNET FUTURE ROLE .........................................................................................................51 TRANSITION PLAN AND TIMELINE ........................................................................................52 FORMAL ANNEXATION PROCEDURE ...................................................................................53 IN CONCLUSION .....................................................................................................................54 STUDY PROCESS ...................................................................................................................55 ABOUT THE CONSULTANT ....................................................................................................55 EXHIBIT A: WALNET MEMBER INDIVIDUAL SERVICE AREAS .............................................56 EXHIBIT B: WWPL SERVICE TO THE LATINO POPULATION ................................................57 EXHIBIT C: LIBRARY DATA TABLE .........................................................................................60 EXHIBIT D: ANNEXATION GUIDE ...........................................................................................61 EXHIBIT E: FIFE ANNEXATION AGREEMENT........................................................................68 EXHIBIT F: 2011 TRUSTEE VACANCY CALENDAR ...............................................................71
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The purpose of this study was to identify structural models for sustainable and effective library service in the Walla Walla area. Necessarily, the consultant examined revenue levels and service indicators of public libraries in Walla Walla County. Except as otherwise noted, the library statistical data examined for this study are from the annual ―Washington Public Libraries Statistical Reports‖ (State Library Reports). The Washington State Library collects revenue data by source from annual reports filed by the library jurisdictions. The consultant used ―local jurisdictional operating revenues‖ as a common measure of sustainability. The Washington State Library defines ―local jurisdictional operating revenues‖ as ―revenue the library has received from its local city, district, or region that are generated through property tax and other general taxes.‖ The consultant also examined ―local operating contract revenue‖. The amount of local operating contract revenue is also collected by the State Library. ―This is revenue from contract fees paid to the library by entities contracting for library services.‖ Both the Walla Walla Public Library and the Walla Walla County Rural Library District receive this type of revenue. The contract amount shows as revenue for both jurisdictions in the State Library Reports and the consultant has accounted for that in analyzing and reporting the data in this report. This study process did not call for an evaluation of the libraries in Walla Walla County. References to average, above average, or below average in this report refer to how service indicators of public libraries in Walla Walla County compare to other libraries in Washington.
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WALNET, a consortium of the Walla Walla Public Library, Walla Walla County Rural Library District, and the Walla Walla Community College Library, commissioned a study of alternative models for cooperatively providing effective and sustainable library services in Walla Walla County. The WALNET Board also wanted the role of the consortium clarified in relation to the consultant’s recommended model. The specifications of the project are elaborated in the following pages of the full report.
The ―Players‖ are those libraries and library organizations that initiated this study or could play a role in the establishment of a structure for library services in Walla Walla County. These players and their situation are described in the full report. They include: the City of Walla Walla and the Walla Walla Public Library (WWPL) the Walla Walla County Rural Library District (RLD) the town of Prescott the town of Waitsburg and the Weller Public Library the City of College Place the Walla Walla Community College and Library (WWCC/WWCCL WALNET
Also interested in this study was the leadership of the Whitman College Library in the City of Walla Walla, the Walla Walla University Library in College Place, and the Columbia County Rural Library District. Academic libraries in the County are impacted by the comparative underfunding of public libraries in the County and the absence of public library services in College Place. The Columbia County Rural Library District (CCRLD) is interested in inter-county cooperation and participation in WALNET.
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MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY
The underlying motivation for this study is an overall concern among stakeholders about the financial stability and future viability of library services in Walla Walla County. They believe that the reduction of funding is at the heart of the the conflictual contract negotiations between the two primary public library service providers in the County: the WWPL and the RLD. The lack of public library services in College Place, the substantially increased cost of a WWPL card in 2008, confusion over the role of WALNET, and complex policies regarding the use of the WALNET card all contribute to a disjointed model that is difficult for the public to use and to understand. These issues are further elaborated individually in the full report.
WHAT STAKEHOLDERS WANT
The stakeholders in this project want improved library services in Walla Walla County. They want collections and services to be readily available to the public. They want leadership toward a shared vision of library service and transparency in the administration of library services. They want the public to easily and readily be able to use the libraries without undue complications. They want use of the libraries to increase dramatically. They want the public to have a positive image of libraries in the larger community. The opinion of project stakeholders is that these aforementioned issues undermine the image of public libraries and public confidence in local government. In their view, the underfunding of the public libraries and the fragmented nature of public libraries in the County leads to the public’s frustration and dissatisfaction.
KEY FINDINGS CONCERNING SUSTAINABILITY
Revenue shortfalls are negatively affecting libraries across the nation and the State of Washington is no exception. While library districts have maintained relatively stable revenue, many cities have not been so fortunate. The number of library districts in Washington has remained at 24 for some time while the number of municipal libraries has shrunk as some municipalities in recent years have annexed into districts (Yakima, Dayton, and Renton) or no longer receive local operating revenues (Kittitas). Public libraries in Walla Walla County are a mix of organizational types. The City of Walla Walla and the town of Waitsburg have municipal libraries. The RLD district is a county library district and serves the unincorporated area of the County. The town of Prescott contracts for library services with the RLD and the RLD contracts for some of
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its services with the City of Walla Walla. The City of College Place has neither a taxsupported library nor contract for library services. In order to identify sustainable models, it is important to understand revenue conditions and trends. The following key findings are described in detail in the full report. 1. The combined local operating revenue per capita for public library services in Walla Walla County has been below average for the last decade compared to public library jurisdictions serving populations of 25,000-100,000. In 2009, the latest official reported year, it was $30.73 in Walla Walla County compared to $37.90. The $30.73 includes the combined local operating revenue of WWPL, the RLD, Waitsburg, and Prescott. 2. Because the WWPL is such an essential part of the provision of library services in the County, what has happened to its level of funding over the long term is especially problematic. The City of Walla Walla’s local operating revenue for the library in cents per thousand of assessed valuation declined dramatically in 2000 as the result of Measure I-1651, from $0.987 in 1999 to $0.5488 in 2000. The rate gradually dropped over the decade to its 2010 rate of $0.3396. 3. On average, the RLD has contributed about 31% of the local operating revenue for the City’s library. However, the RLD’s share as a percentage of the total operating revenue for the WWPL had increased to over 40% from 2005 to 2008, at which point contract negotiations bogged down. The RLD contribution was increasing, essentially closing the gap between the City’s relatively flat funding and the increasing operating expenses of the WWPL. 4. The major issue troubling the contractual relationship between the City and the RLD has been determining a fair contract amount. Various compensation formulas have been tried and others suggested over time. They have focused on trying to find a formula for sharing the cost of the library based on expenditures. The problem with this method is that the City, not the RLD, controls the expenditures. The RLD is not likely to fund on a proportionate basis a budget over which it has no control.
I-I65 reduced car licensing fees which impacted municipal revenues.
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The full report describes three models for organizing libraries in Walla Walla County, including advantages, disadvantages, issues, and where appropriate, funding and governance considerations. The optimum model for achieving sustainable countywide public library services in Walla Walla County is through annexation of the cities and towns to the RLD. The City of Walla Walla, as well as the City of College Place, and the towns of Waitsburg and Prescott would annex to the RLD as well. The larger district could be renamed to suggest a broader library system. This model is optimum because it alone guarantees a dedicated base of funding for public library services in all of Walla Walla County. The annexation of these jurisdictions to the RLD would secure a rate of funding for library services that would equal the higher rate of the existing RLD rate. Annexation would apply the district’s higher tax rate on the newly annexed incorporated area(s). This alone could increase local jurisdictional operating revenue for public library services in the County by about 28%. In addition, the annexation would enable the consolidation of services, more efficient use of funds, the expansion of services, and easier use of libraries by the public. For the long-term, it would provide a dedicated, relatively stable base of funding for public libraries throughout the County. Together with other current district revenue sources, this funding could be leveraged to secure grants and establish a library foundation, countywide. A solid funding base and the consolidation of administration and support functions together would facilitate a sustainable library system. Because the WWPL is a cornerstone of library services in the County, it is the most critical annexation. Without the WWPL, the residents of the district, particularly those residing in the unincorporated surrounding area, would be deprived of convenient access to a public library.
ROLE OF WALNET
WALNET is not a replacement for public libraries. WALNET should be a conduit for increasing efficiency among the members and for providing transparency of services to those served by the libraries. WALNET’s role becomes more closely defined as the public library funding issues become resolved. WALNET should facilitate resource sharing among public, academic, and special libraries in the County and in the larger region. WALNET should connect sustainable library systems of different types for the benefit of the residents of Walla Walla County. Once a firm base of funding is secured for public libraries WALNET would be better positioned to facilitate multi-type library cooperation.
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WWPL AND RLD INTERDEPENDENCE
The WWPL and the RLD need each other to provide the best possible library services to their residents. The WWPL is very important in the overall service plan of the RLD and this must be acknowledged. The City must appreciate that the WWPL, though a major component of the RLD service plan, is not the RLD’s whole service plan. The RLD has a rural as well as a suburban population to serve. The cost of providing services in rural communities tends to be higher than in more densely populated suburban and urban centers. The City and the RLD need each other to make services accessible, convenient, and uncomplicated for the people of Walla Walla County. They really must find a way to make the relationship work because if they don’t the public is the loser.
CONTRACT PAYMENT TERMS
The City of Walla Walla needs money to sustain the operation of the WWPL at its current service levels. The co-funding relationship between the City and the RLD is of long-standing. This is a different relationship than one in which the WWPL is fully funded and would then base a contract on recovering its additional costs related to serving an additional population. The parties should look at parity in revenues contributed, in negotiating their contract. The body of the report provides suggestions and examples.
The plan for transitioning to the recommended model include negotiating an interim contract between the RLD and the City of Walla Walla, making the case for annexation with the cities and towns in the County, developing a consolidated library services plan and budget (CPB), and implementing the CPB consistent with the voters’ decisions on annexation. Should annexation measures fail, the alternative recommended model is a regional library with a single consolidated service plan and budget (CPB). The transition plan would be the same either way.
1. Pursuing the optimum model, The Walla Walla City Council should immediately begin discussion with the RLD leading up to the annexation of the City of Walla Walla to the RLD. 2. With annexation as a goal, the City of Walla Walla and the RLD, should immediately begin to negotiate an interim contract for January 2012 – December 2013, using a model based on local operating revenue as suggested in this report.
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3. WALNET, with the assistance of a consultant or other agent and the RLD, should immediately begin to confer with the governing bodies of the City of College Place, Waitsburg, and Prescott concerning this report and the recommended annexations. 4. The WWPL and the RLD should develop a consolidated library services plan and budget and an implementation timeline.
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The client for this project is the WALNET Board. WALNET is synonymous with the governing board of the Walla Walla Area Library Network (WALNET). WALNET is a consortium created through an Inter-Local Agreement for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a shared online, automated union catalog of the collection holdings of the members of the consortium. The members of the consortium are the Walla Walla County Rural Library District (RLD), the Walla Walla Public Library (WWPL), and the Walla Walla Community College Library (WWCCL). The WALNET Board is made up of the library directors of these members as well as the technical services staff person from each of the three libraries.
THE PROJECT CHARGE
WALNET commissioned a comparative analysis of alternative models for cooperatively providing effective and sustainable library services in the Walla Walla service area. In this analysis, the client wants the role of WALNET clarified and: 1. comparative costs for implementing and sustaining the various models 2. the advantages, disadvantages, opportunities, and obstacles associated with each model option; 3. a description of changes in governance, if applicable, and any anticipated impacts on library services; and 4. a plan for transitioning from the current model to the proposed model (including interim funding methodologies), a description of changes in governance (if applicable), and any anticipated impacts on library services.
WALNET SERVICE AREA
The request for proposal asked for a comparative analysis of models for sustainable library service in the ―WALNET service area‖. In conducting this study, the consultant has concluded that any sustainable model must first stabilize public library services in Walla Walla County. Once that is accomplished, interlibrary and intercounty cooperation is achievable.
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See Exhibit A for the combined service areas of the WALNET co-signers. The most encompassing service area of the three WALNET co-signatories is the Community College which spans 4 counties: Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, and Asotin. However, the focus of this study has been first on establishing a public library funding base. WALNET cannot be a substitute for public library services.
THE PROJECT STAKEHOLDERS
When this report refers to project stakeholders, it means those who have participated in interviews and meetings with the consultant including: the WALNET Board; the City of Walla Walla Mayor, City Manager, and Library Board; the Board of the Walla Walla County Rural Library District; the Community College administration; persons from Whitman College Library, Walla Walla University, and others interested in library services and this project in particular.
The ―Players‖ are those libraries and library organizations that initiated this study or could play a role in the establishment of a structure for library services in Walla Walla County. The City of College Place is also a potential player and has been written about in the ―Key Issues Related to Sustainability‖ section of this report.
THE CITY AND THE WALLA WALLA PUBLIC LIBRARY
The WWPL is a municipal library serving a city population of 31,610. Under contract with the RLD, the WWPL ―…extend[s] the same public library services and privileges to residents and property owners within Walla Walla County Fire Districts 4 and 8, as are available to residents and property owners within the City of Walla Walla.” A written agreement between the RLD and the City of Walla Walla to serve the RLD residents has been in effect and renewed for over thirty years. The WWPL has become dependent on the contract with the RLD to maintain its current level of operation as a stand-alone library. Funding from the City of Walla Walla for its public library is at nearly its lowest level in at least 12 years and the funding from the RLD has been reduced significantly since 2009. Even with the RLD contract, the WWPL is underfunded compared to its counterpart libraries in WA and compared to state averages. For example, in 2009 the per capita revenue for the WWPL ($31.84) including the RLD contract was 84% of the average of
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its population cohort group.2 When the population of the RLD is included, the WWPL per capita revenue was $20.57 or 54% of the average of its population cohort group. Without the RLD revenues, the per capita local revenue for the WWPL was $24.39. The 2010 per capita local revenue is even lower as the result of revenue reductions for the WWPL from the City and from the RLD. Anne Haley, Former WWPL Director, in her 2010 report to the Walla Walla City Council compares operating expenditures and service measures of the WWPL. Haley makes the point that WWPL is not overly costly. ―With spending on public library services in Walla Walla below the median of comparable libraries, it should be no surprise that service levels are also less.‖3
THE WALLA WALLA COUNTY RURAL LIBRARY DISTRICT
The Walla Walla County Rural Library District is a junior taxing district established in 1972 by a vote of those living in the unincorporated Walla Walla County. It serves a population of 17,3104 in the unincorporated county including the City of Prescott (with a population of 327 in 2009) The City of Prescott contracts for library services with the RLD. The amount of the contract ($5,536 in 2010) equals the equivalent tax rate of the RLD applied to the assessed valuation of Prescott. The RLD operates four libraries in Walla Walla County: Burbank, Prescott, Touchet, and Vista Hermosa, and it contracts with the WWPL to provide the RLD’s suburban residents services of the WWPL. It also operates its Service Center which is located in the City of Walla Walla. The Service Center is the ―headquarters‖ of the RLD where staff order, receive, process, and dispatch library materials and perform business and other functions that support its libraries.
The per capita revenue is based on data obtained by the consultant from the 2009 Washington Public Library Statistical Report (2009 Report). The 2009 Report has the latest available official comparable statewide data. The 2009 reported population for WWPL is the City’s population; the revenue reported is the sum of the City’s local revenue and the RLD contract amount with the City.
Anne Haley, “Walla Walla Public Library Services and the Walla Walla County Rural Library District”, a report to the Walla Walla City Council, September 20, 2010, [no page number] Locate in the Addenda WWPL & Comps, page titled “Executive Summary”.
For consistency with other data presented in this report, the population is that provided in the 2009 Washington Public Library Statistical Report, the latest available. The 2010 Washington Public Library Statistical Report will not be available for a few months. In these reports, the RLD includes the contract population in its service area population, according to the reporting instructions. The 2010 Washington Public Library Statistical Report will not be available for a few months.
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The RLD is about to open its new Plaza Branch to fill a service gap the Board believes has existed related to library hours and services to the Latino population. The storefront library is in the Walla Walla City limits. According to Beth Hudson, the WWPL Interim Director, the WWPL has a ―…commitment to reach the Latino population.‖ The WWPL’s service program for the Latino population is outlined in Exhibit B which includes information provided by Hudson and Liz George, the WWPL Young People’s Librarian. The RLD revenues have been modestly increasing as property values have increased over the years. The RLD is financially stable in that it has a dedicated funding source. The RLD per capita local revenue was $59.10 in 2009; $45.50 adjusted for the contract with the City of Walla Walla. In addition to its district tax revenues, the RLD receives a small amount in timber tax revenues in most years, and other revenue such as interest, donations, and reimbursements. The total of these other revenues for 1999-2010 was $268,509, an average of $22,376 annually. Some of the RLD’s service measures reported in the State Library Reports compared to its counterpart libraries in Washington are below average: registered borrowers per capita, staffing per thousand residents, circulation per capita, and annual attendance per capita. It is important to note that since by contract, the WWPL is the service provider for many of the RLD residents, the data for certain service indicators are counted with the WWPL data. For example, the RLD provides more than its reported hours of service through its contract with the WWPL. The number and per capita calculation of registered borrowers, circulation, and annual attendance are counted with the WWPL when residents of the RLD use the WWPL for those purposes. One of the RLD goals has been fiscal prudence and it has built a significant reserve fund over many years. The RLD goals related to its reserves have to do with sustainability, capital development, and unforeseen exigencies.
TOWN OF WAITSBURG
The Town of Waitsburg has an established municipal library, the Weller Public Library, which it funds at $0.1964/$1,000 of assessed valuation. Funding for the Waitsburg library has averaged about $12,300 annually over the last 11 years. The highest funding during that period was in 2002 when the local revenue exceeded $30,000. Library personnel told the consultant that the library would like to be able to place holds for their patrons through the WALNET online catalog or have their patrons do so themselves. Currently, this is not permissible because Waitsburg is not a member of WALNET. Its bibliographic records are not in the WALNET online catalog and it does
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not help pay for the online catalog. Waitsburg does borrow materials for its patrons through interlibrary loan with the Walla Walla Public Library and the RLD.
TOWN OF PRESCOTT
Prescott contracts for library services with the RLD for library services and has done so for many years. The RLD operates a library in Prescott. The contract fee is equal to the RLD’s tax rate in any given year (not to exceed $0.50) applied to the assessed valuation of Prescott. In 2010, this amounted to $5,536.
WALLA WALLA COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND LIBRARY
The Walla Walla Community College (WWCC) operates two libraries, one on its Walla Walla campus and another on its Clarkston campus in eastern Washington, adjacent to the Idaho border. The Walla Walla Community College Library (WWCCL) also maintains a library facility at the Washington State Penitentiary. The college service area covers four counties in southeastern Washington State: Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, and Asotin. Student enrollment is 6,449 and the community college employs nearly 1300, including both full-time and part-time. The Community College and its Library are significant players in WALNET. The Community College is signatory to the Inter-Local Agreement that established WALNET. The current chair of WALNET is Darcy Dauble, the Community College Library Director. On behalf of the organization, the chair contracts with suitable vendors for maintenance of automated system hardware and software and for other services, such as the contract for this study.
As previously stated, WALNET is a consortium. Contrary to the perception of some, WALNET is supplementary and not overarching in the role it plays in the region. That is, WALNET does not govern the provision of library services in the region. Rather, it facilitates cooperative activities and endeavors amongst library service providers in the region, namely three, at this time: the WWPL, the RLD, and the WWCCL. WALNET, like any consortium, is as strong as its member libraries. For WALNET to be its most effective, the member libraries have to be stable and sufficiently funded to be
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viable as entities in their own right. A consortium is not a substitute for library service; it facilitates cooperation amongst viable entities. For now, WALNET plays a very limited though extremely important practical role in supporting library services in the region as the provider of an automated system that enables all residents of the region to search once to locate library materials. The WALNET members share the cost of the automated system. The out-of-pocket budget in 2011 is about $27,000. WALNET has the potential to provide more than it currently provides if the signatories to the agreement are able and willing. In fact, the WALNET Agreement could be amended to provide a fully consolidated library system for Walla Walla County. This is discussed in the Options Section of this report. However, this alternative in and of itself would not solve the underfunding of public libraries in the area.
COLUMBIA COUNTY RURAL LIBRARY DISTRICT
CCRLD to the east of Walla Walla County is a junior taxing district with a dedicated library tax about comparable to the RLD tax rate. Janet Lyon, Librarian is interested in WALNET for its resource sharing potential and because the CCRLD is beginning to evaluate its options for an ILS. The CCRLD has a collection of 17,000 items it is willing to share in a networked environment where ILS and courier costs can be shared.
KEY ISSUES RELATED TO SUSTAINABILITY
The stakeholders identified several key issues they believe are obstacles to effective library services in Walla Walla County. Each of these issues is discussed in this section. They include: 1. Decrease in library funding 2. Conflictual contract between the City of Walla Walla and RLD 3. Lack of public library services in the City of College Place 4. Confusion over the role of WALNET 5. Complex policies regarding the Walnet Library Card 6. $135 non-resident fee for the Walla Walla Public Library Each of these issues is explained in the following pages. Following the Issues is a description and analysis of model options and a recommended model with
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recommendations for a transition to the recommended model. The report includes recommendations in the event that the optimum model is not achievable.
DECREASE IN LIBRARY FUNDING
Many governmental units are experiencing revenue shortfalls which have been exacerbated by the economic downturn of the last few years. Revenue shortfalls are negatively affecting libraries across the nation and the state of Washington is no exception. While library districts have maintained relatively stable revenue, many cities have not been so fortunate. There have been at least a dozen district annexations in Washington since 20085, including the city of Renton to King County library district. This discussion of funding focuses on local operating revenue. Operating revenue is the clearest indicator of financial sustainability which is the subject of this study. For this reason, the State Library differentiates between operating revenues and capital revenues. The consultant studied local operating revenues particularly of the WWPL and the RLD as they have an interdependent role in providing services to most of the county. It is important to note that the City of Walla Walla has said that the State Library Reports do not include an estimated $100,000 minimally (since 2005) in library facility costs, including for repair, maintenance, and labor. These types of costs are not in the library’s cost center. Additionally, the City estimates that the library’s share of administrative overhead is another 10% of its annual operating budget. Since the consultant has relied on official reports from the State Library, these estimates are not included in the per capita data for the WWPL. The charts in this report do not include capital revenue for either jurisdiction. Both jurisdictions have committed capital funds for the physical plant in their jurisdictions. For the City, this amounts to over $1.14 million in City and private revenue for the expansion of the WWPL in 2005. The RLD has committed $264,361 of its local revenue for capital purposes from 1999-2009.
LOCAL OPERATING REVENUE
The combined local operating revenue per capita for public library services in Walla Walla County has been below average for the last decade compared to public library
From “Library Elections in Washington State,” provided by the Washington State Library which can be found on the Washington Secretary of State’s website, http://www.sos.wa.gov/library/elections.aspx
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jurisdictions serving populations of 25,000- 100,000. In 2009, it was $30.73 compared to $37.90. The $30.73 includes the combined revenue of WWPL, RLD, Waitsburg, and Prescott. Because the WWPL is such an essential part of the provision of library services in the county, what has happened to its level of funding over the long term is especially problematic. In 2000, the City’s level of operational funding for its library decreased significantly because of the City’s loss of revenue with the passage of I-695, and cuts were made in staffing and hours of operation. Following the I-695 cut, City library funding increased annually until 2005, when it fell to its lowest level in the past decade. City funding again began an annual increase, reaching its highest level in 2009, and then decreased again in 2010 as the City’s general fund revenue fell as a result of the recession.
The preceding chart illustrates the pattern of local operating revenue for the WWPL. The span of years is from 1999 to 2010 and is based on State Library Reports6. The relevant State Library data, which is reported annually by the libraries themselves, was compiled in Exhibit C by the consultant. The chart shows from 1999 to 2010 the amount of revenue contributed by the City for the library’s budget (local jurisdiction revenue); the amount of the RLD contribution
Washington Public Library Statistical Reports, 1999-2009, Washington State Library. The State Library has not yet published 2010 statistics but it has provided the consultant with preliminary, unofficial revenue data which is included in this report.
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(RLD Contract); and the sum of the two amounts (WWPL Total Revenue). The City’s contribution has dipped and peaked. The RLD’s contribution has steadily increased until 2009 when the contract method was challenged by the RLD. The combined funding for the WWPL reached its highest level of the decade in 2008 and then began falling as the RLD contract amount was decreased, and fell yet further as the City reduced funding in 2010 with the recession. The average annual City operating revenue over the last 11 years (1999-2009) has been about $642,500 while the RLD’s has been $291,200, about 45% that of the City’s contribution. On average, the RLD has contributed about 31% of the operating revenue for the City’s library. However, as illustrated in the chart below, the RLD’s share of the WWPL operations as a percentage of the WWPL’s total operating revenues had increased to over 40% in the four years preceding contract renegotiations. This is due to the increasing costs of operating the WWPL in the face of relatively flat funding from the City.
RATE OF FUNDING
Another way to understand what has happened with funding is to look at the revenue contribution as cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. The City’s contribution of operating revenue in cents per thousand of assessed valuation had for half of the decade exceeded that of the RLD. In 1999, the cents/$thousand for the City’s contribution was $0.987. As previously noted, it declined dramatically to .5488 in 2000 as the result of I-165. Still, it remained higher than that of the RLD until 2005 when it dropped to $0.4320. From that point on, it continued to drop to its 2010 rate of $0.3396.
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The chart below illustrates the City’s revenue for library services as a tax rate (cents per $1000) from 1999 to 2010 and compares it to the RLD. As a junior taxing district, the RLD provides a dedicated source of funding for library services for the RLD service area. It is important to note that the City’s funding for the operation of the library comes from its general fund which includes revenue sources besides property taxes and that the library competes for funding with all other City services.
The City has become increasingly dependent on the RLD contract to hire the staff and to operate its library at current levels. However, even with funding from the RLD, the WWPL is below average compared to its Washington counterparts in key measures including hours of service, staff per capita, registered borrowers, annual attendance, and circulation per capita.
PER CAPITA FUNDING
The below average measures are most likely due to the decreasing per capita revenue for library services which is also below average. The population overall has grown while revenues in some jurisdictions have not kept up with rising costs. The result has been service reductions. The following chart shows the population growth of the respective jurisdictions in the last decade. On average, the City population has been about 64% of the combined population of the WWPL and the RLD service areas while the RLD has about 36% of
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the population. The City population has grown 8.8% from 29,200 to 31,770 since 1999. The RLD population has grown 3.6%, from 16,805 to 17,410.
The following chart shows the per capita operating revenue available for the WWPL over the last decade. The top line shows the average local operating revenue per capita for the population cohort. The other four lines in the chart use various dollar and population values to illustrate four different ways of appraising the per capita operating revenue. In all four scenarios, the per capita operating revenue for the WWPL is well below the latest (2009) published average $37.90 amongst WWPL’s population cohort of Washington public libraries.7
Even with dramatically below average per capita revenue, the WWPL staff has managed to exceed the average in the number of programs it offers, the number that attend its programs, and in the number of reference transactions. This is a testament to the commitment of the WWPL staff.
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1. The top line shows the average for the population cohort that includes Walla Walla up to the latest published year ($37.90 in 2009) 2. The second line from the top shows per capita operating revenue using the combined revenue from the City and the RLD divided by the population of the City. (State Library report for 2009: $31.84) $28.80 in 2010 3. The third line from the top shows per capita operating revenues for the WWPL using the local operating revenue contributed by the City divided by the City’s population ($27.80 in 2010) 4. The fourth line from the top shows per capita operating revenue for the WWPL using the total operating revenue from the City and the RLD contract divided by the population of the City and Fire Districts 4 and 8. These fire districts are generally thought to contain that part of the RLD service population that because of proximity is served by the WWPL. ($21.36 in 2010) 5. The bottom line shows per capita revenue for the WWPL using the total operating revenue from the City and the RLD contract divided by the combined population of the City and the RLD. ($17.96 in 2010)
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CONFLICT OVER CONTRACT BETWEEN THE CITY OF WALLA WALLA AND THE RLD
The major issue troubling the contractual relationship between the City and the RLD recently has been determining a fair contract amount. The current City funding alone for the WWPL cannot sustain the current service levels for the population of the City. The City’s budget for the library is not sufficient to cover personnel costs, much less the collection and other operating costs. At the same time, the WWPL is a cornerstone of library services in the county. The RLD needs the WWPL to provide services to its residents. As the county population grows, this will continue to be the case. It makes sense for the two entities to work together and to work to include Waitsburg, College Place, and Prescott as well in a county-wide effort to provide the best possible services to the residents of Walla Walla County. The contract between the City and the RLD lacks a consistent intent when one reads the Agreement provisions related to purpose, payments, and reopener specifications. This lack of clarity about the nature of the relationship has probably contributed to the differences in perspective on what is and is not fair.
RELATIONSHIP OF LONG-STANDING
According to Haley, the first contract between the RLD and the City of Walla Walla was in 1974. The contract amount paid by the RLD averaged about 30% of the WWPL’s operating budget. The payment amount was based on the number of County residents who lived in the unincorporated County and the number of county residents who had library cards. 8 Ms. Haley wrote that: ―Until recently, this method was considered by the City and the RLD Board to be the RLD’s fair share.‖9 The consultant has examined the ―Agreement for Library Services‖ between the City and the RLD from 2001 to 2010. The agreements show a decline in the City’s ability to maintain local effort and service levels, even amidst increasing revenues from the RLD. Two issues appear to have been simultaneously at play: the increasing dependence of the City on the RLD for funding to maintain the City’s library and the evolving service model of the RLD.
This paragraph is paraphrased from the Executive Summary of the Anne Haley report to the Walla Walla City Council, dated September 20, 2010.
Haley Report, in the Executive Summary at the front of the report (page not numbered)
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RLD SERVICE MODEL EVOLUTION
The RLD service model for providing library services has changed over the years, taking one form when the RLD contracted with the City for most services and changing as the RLD has developed, taking on the direct provision of services. According to Punkey Adams, RLD Executive Director, the initial model included the WWPL operating the Burbank and Touchet branches and providing a mail order service to residents as well as allowing the use of the WWPL by RLD residents. Beginning in 1992, the RLD began to operate the Burbank and Touchet libraries and mail order service. The RLD also opened its Service Center in 1992. Prior to that, the RLD had an office in WWPL which was part of the contractual agreement. (Prior to being at WWPL, the RLD had an office in the County Courthouse.) The contract with the City was re-written in consideration of these and other changes. The re-written contract signaled a new model, one ―…that called for the [WWPL] to provide the same library services to county residents as were provided to city residents. Examples of these services were walk-in service, interlibrary loans at no cost, delivery of material to homebound people and outreach to specialized areas such as Farm Labor Homes and skilled nursing facilities.‖10 As previously noted, the WWPL is a significant player in the provision of the RLD’s services because of its proximity to population of the adjacent unincorporated area. Because of proximity to the WWPL, the population of the unincorporated adjacent area generally referred to as Fire Districts 4 and 8, uses the WWPL rather than the more distant other libraries in the RLD. However, the RLD is unwilling to continue to pay in the manner of the past. The reduction of funding from the RLD at this time is particularly difficult for the City to absorb. Contract negotiations are stalled.
CONTRACT PURPOSE AND COST
The stated purpose of the agreement in 2001 was as follows: The RLD provides public library services to the residents of Walla Walla County who reside outside of the city limits of Walla Walla or within certain towns having contracts with the RLD to provide such services. Walla Walla provides public library services to residents of Walla Walla through the Walla Walla Public
From Letter from Punkey Adams, Executive Director of the WWCRLD, to Tim McCarty, Support Services Director, City of Walla Walla, May 17, 2010, which includes a brief history of the Agreements, page 3-4
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Library. The RLD requests that Walla Walla extend the same public library services and privileges to residents and property owners of the rural library district and the residents and property owners of the town of Prescott, Washington as are available at the Walla Walla Public Library for residents within Walla Walla, in return for payment of certain agreed upon sum by the RLD. (2001 Agreement, p. 1) This language remained virtually the same until 2009. The 2009 and 2010 agreements both read as follows: The RLD requests that the City of Walla Walla extend the same public library services and privileges to residents and property owners within Walla Walla County Fire Districts 4 and 8, as are available to residents and property owners within the City of Walla Walla. From 2001 until 2008, the formula for payment for these services was a percentage of the RLD property tax revenues from the Fire Districts 4 and 8. In 2009 and 2010 the manner of calculating the cost obligation of RLD by its initiative was changed to a cardholder and circulation formula and the amount of the contract thereby reduced. In each year, the Agreement included a provision exclusive to the RLD to reopen the contract if the City did not meet certain specifications related to service levels. Over the years, the specifications became fewer and fewer, probably reflecting the City’s inability to guarantee that these specifications could be met. The specifications included such things as the cents per thousand of the library’s budget, hours of service, collection expenditures, as well as others. The RLD appears to have been attempting to hold the City to certain funding and service levels which eroded over time. From 2001 until 2008, the amount the RLD agreed to pay the City was the equivalent of a percentage of the assessed value of Fire Districts 4 and 8 for the preceding year. The percentage in 2001 was 95% and dropped successively until in 2008 it was 88%. The current formula is based on the number of residents of Fire Districts 4 and 8 who have library cards multiplied by the cost of a non-resident library card. The result of this formula method has been a substantial reduction in fees paid to the City for library services. However, in 2009 the City increased the cost of a non-resident library card from $50 to $135. The RLD Board has been rankled by this and according to some stakeholders, the dramatic increase in the amount of the fee has rankled non-residents of Walla Walla as well. The RLD Board has become increasingly disillusioned with the contractual arrangement with the City. The RLD’s leadership believes that the City has over the years used more and more of the RLD money to subsidize the City library and that rising costs have not resulted in more services but in less service. The RLD leadership feels that the City has
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not met them half-way. The RLD leadership has the impression that the RLD has been the City’s ―golden goose‖ for library services in the City while the City has not maintained effort in funding the library. The RLD seems in search of a service delivery model that includes the WWPL but better meets the needs of its population. The increasing reliance of the City on the RLD to fund the WWPL has become a matter of concern for the RLD. Conversely, with the increasing reductions in the RLD contract amount since 2009, and based on data from the Haley Report, the Walla Walla City Council believes that the City is now subsidizing the RLD. Amidst the controversy, some people in the City have questioned the sizable reserves of the RLD. Because of its dissatisfaction with the contractual compensation, the City has notified WALNET, in compliance with WALNET protocol that it will withdraw from WALNET effective January 2012, unless there is alternative funding model or a long-term contractual funding methodology to which the parties can agree. The effect of the City’s withdrawal from WALNET would be that the WWPL would have to provide its own ILS. In this event, the City would pay for the withdrawal of its records from the ILS and for purchasing, managing, and maintaining its own ILS. The effect of the withdrawal of WWPL records from the ILS database would be that non-residents of the City of Walla Walla would not be allowed to borrow from its collection without paying for a non-resident card. The current price of a non-resident card is $135 per year per household, according the City. According to the RLD’s leadership, the push-back on the contract amount was further prompted by the district’s auditor11 who questioned the rising costs of the contract amount given reduced service levels. According to the City, further consideration of the issue, including information from the City of Walla Walla, resulted in no continuing or further concerns by the auditor.
LACK OF LIBRARY SERVICES: COLLEGE PLACE
The City of College Place does not have a public library nor does it contract for library services. In the course of this study, stakeholders, including residents and former residents of College Place have expressed disappointment and frustration that College Place does not have access to a free public library. They expect that their taxes would afford access to public library services in the County. They are dismayed that the WWPL library card costs $135 per year.
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As a partial remedy, the City of College Place has issued library card reimbursements to its residents since 2000. The reimbursements are limited to the budget available for cards and to one per family on a first-come, first-served basis. The City reimburses $25 to the purchaser. The number of card holders was on the rise until 2009 (123 in 2008) when the City of Walla Walla raised its library card fee. That increase reportedly sparked resident use of the Milton-Freewater Public Library in Oregon which charges $35 for a library card.12 According to a City of College Place report to the City Council, the average number of cards issued from 2000-2010 was 81 per year at an annual average cost of $1,834.09. Cards are issued on an annual basis. Over the decade, the City issued 893 cards at a total cost of $20,175.13 The RCW allows that a library may be established in any county, city, or town either (1) by its legislative body of its own initiative; or (2) upon the petition of one hundred taxpayers of such a governmental unit, the legislative body shall submit to a vote of the qualified electors thereof, at the next municipal or special election held therein (in the case of a city or town) or the next general election or special election held therein (in the case of a county), the question whether a library shall be established; and if a majority of the electors voting on the question vote in favor of the establishment of a library, the legislative body shall forthwith establish one. The City of College Place could establish a municipal library or it could contract for library services with another entity, such as the WWPL. It could also establish a municipal library and once established could comingle funds with the WWPL and/or the RLD. Alternatively, College Place could elect to annex to the RLD. This annexation would result in estimated property tax revenue of $241,552. This amount is based on the city’s 2010 assessed valuation. Annexation would increase the RLD revenues by this amount and enable the residents of College Place to use any of the RLD libraries. This could include the WWPL if Walla Walla also annexed to the RLD.
According to Bob Jones, Library Director of the Milton-Freewater Public Library, the library currently has 19 patrons with a Walla Walla ZIP code and 49 with a College Place ZIP code. Cards are issued to individuals, not to families, businesses, or organizations. The patron receives a card and two key tags with identical barcodes. The patron may share one or two of those pieces with other people. The registered patron is responsible for all use of all three pieces. The current annual charge for a non-resident card is $35.00. That is reviewed annually.
The information about library cards issues in College Place is from a Report Item presented to the City of College Place City Council. The agenda date was 10/25/2010.
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CONFUSION ABOUT WALNET
WALNET is supplementary and not overarching in the role it plays in the region. Its role is to facilitate cooperative activities and endeavors amongst library service providers in the region. At this time the participating libraries are the WWPL, the RLD, and the Walla Walla Community College Library (WWCCL).
AUTHORITY AND PURPOSE
As permitted by Chapter 39.34 Revised Code of Washington WALNET was established in 1990 by an Interlocal Cooperation Agreement (Agreement) of three public entities: the City of Walla Walla, the Washington State Community College District No. 20, and the Walla Walla County Rural Library District. The stated rationale for the Agreement is to provide more efficient, effective library services through joint efforts. The stated purpose of the Agreement is ―…to acquire, own, and operate an automated library system and to plan and implement other cooperative library services.‖ The members of the consortium are the signatories to the Agreement and any future eligible public entity that becomes a signatory to the Agreement. WALNET’s Governing Board is made up of the chief library officer of the members and one other appointee of each member entity. WALNET can also have ―customer libraries‖ which are those that use WALNET by payment of a fee but are not a member of the governing board. WALNET has a Fiscal Agent and the capacity for an Operating Agent. These agents are designated by the authority of the WALNET Governing Board. The fiscal agent provides, subject to the Governing Board, the accounting services necessary to acquire and/or lease the automated system and other services as specified in a letter of agreement between the Governing Board and the Fiscal Agent. At this time, the Fiscal Agent is the City of Walla Walla. At present, there is no designated Operating Agent. WALNET also contracts with vendors for maintenance of automated system hardware and software. Any member library may withdraw from WALNET upon written notice to the Governing Board one year prior to withdrawal. The Governing Board may at any time decide to dissolve WALNET upon a 2/3rds affirmative vote of the membership of the Governing Board.
WALNET AUTOMATED LIBRARY SYSTEM
It is through WALNET that the two public library entities—the WWPL and the RLD--and the community college have a single automated library system. The automated system, also called an ―integrated library system‖ tracks items owned, orders made, bills paid, and borrowed library materials according to patron accounts. An ILS includes a
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database of all of the materials owned by the library, software to interact with that database, and both a public and a staff graphical user interface. Software functions have discreet modules: acquisitions, cataloging, circulation, serials, and the interfaces for users of the system. Each patron and item has a unique ID in the database that allows the ILS to track its activity. Often, individual libraries each have their own ILS. The primary function of WALNET is to provide one ILS for all three entities. This not only saves each entity the expense of purchasing and maintaining an ILS, it enables ―resource sharing‖ across these entities. ―Resource sharing‖ means that the service population of the entities can search one database and borrow materials from the combined collections of the participating entities. The ILS keeps track of borrowing activities and can produce a variety of reports related to the database contents and its use.
WALNET members agree to share the cost of the automated system and its annual operation. They also are responsible for safeguarding proprietary, confidential, and classified information in the database.
COMPLEX POLICIES: THE WALNET LIBRARY CARD
A WALNET library card entitles the holder to borrow circulating materials from the WWPL, the RLD, and the WWCCL, subject to certain conditions. The holder of the WALNET card must be a WWCC student or employee, or must be a community member within the taxing districts of the City of Walla Walla or the RLD. At minimum, the WALNET card entitles the holder to borrow from the collections of the three WALNET libraries. Loans are initiated online by the individual with a WALNET card. The loaning library sends the requested item to the library location of the borrower’s choice. Items are transferred informally by various people in WALNET. There is no WALNET courier service. Otherwise, policies vary by WALNET member. Local policy overrides WALNET card privileges. WWPL bases services provided on eligibility for a WWPL card. The RLD and WWCC provide services based on eligibility for a WALNET card. With limitations, students, faculty, and staff of the WWCC 4-county service area are now getting service at Walla Walla PL and the RLD, even if they do not reside in their respective service areas. Borrowing privileges are based on enrollment of the student, and for staff and faculty, employment at the Community College. One need not be a
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resident in either the WWPL or RLD service area to borrow materials from WALNET libraries if one is a student, staff, or faculty of WWCC. The student/employee status is what makes patrons eligible for a WALNET library card. In fact, there are people who reside outside of the WWCC service area but because they are students or employees of the WWCC, are entitled to a WALNET card; for example, in Hermiston and Milton-Freewater, Oregon. There are students and employees who reside in College Place which does not have a public library and they too are eligible for a WALNET card.
PRIVILEGES AT THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Students and employees of WWCC are eligible for WALNET cards. As a commuter college, the WWCC students can reside anywhere and many do commute from northeastern Oregon and/or southeastern Idaho (to the Clarkston Campus). The majority come from Walla Walla County and Asotin County either because this is their home address or a rental address. It is not uncommon for parents to rent an inexpensive residence in Clarkston or Walla Walla for students to stay in during the week and then they commute home on the weekends. There is no exclusive WWCC library card. The WALNET card is issues to the Community College students and employees. The WALNET card holder who is not a student or employee of the WWCC is entitled to the same rights and privileges of students and employees in using the WWCC library, as long as they are a member in good standing. One exception is, by agreement with vendors, only students and employees can access the WWCC licenses databases from off-campus. A staff/student identification number is therefore required for login. WWPL service area residents and RLD service area residents who have been issued a WALNET card by these libraries are permitted to use the libraries and services at WWCC library as well as place a hold on WWCC library materials for pick up at another location. The WWCC library is a member of the international bibliographic utility, OCLC and thus it is not limited to the region in having access to resources for borrowing. The Orbis Cascade Alliance courier service supports extra-regional borrowing. Whitman College Library is providing a courier drop site for interlibrary loans to and from the WALNET libraries. The WWCC library borrows both within the WALNET consortium and throughout the country (OCLC) and this service is available without a fee charge to all those persons with a WALNET card.
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PRIVILEGES AT THE RLD
The RLD serves WALNET card holders as if they are RLD residents. The RLD policy is that all WALNET cardholders are eligible to receive walk-in services at all RLD libraries. WWCC students, staff and faculty, regardless of where they live, may use any RLD facility or service that is available to RLD residents. For instance, students, staff, or faculty who reside in Columbia County and hold a WALNET card issued by WWCC may use the Prescott Library. When the Plaza Library opens, the RLD will serve any WALNET cardholder regardless of where they live - College Place, Milton-Freewater, Hermiston, Pomeroy, etc.
PRIVILEGES AT WWPL
For ―walk-in service‖ at the WWPL, which means being able to use the computers and check out items directly, a WWCC student, staff, or faculty must show proof of a street address in the City of Walla Walla or in the RLD. The contract between the RLD and the WWPL extends WWPL service to RLD residents. WWPL reserves some types of materials for walk-in patrons only.
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$135 NON-RESIDENT FEE AT WWPL
According to stakeholders, the $135 annual non-resident fee for a WWPL library card is excessive and discourages the non-resident use of the WWPL. The fee is at the high end of the range charged by public libraries in WA. However, the City maintains that the fee, which it considers a household fee rather than a per capita fee, fairly reflects its 2008 operating costs. The 2010 fee for a non-resident library card at the Walla Walla Public Library is $135.00 for a 12 month period or $70.00 for a 6 month period. This non-resident fee is based on the 2008 per capita operating cost multiplied by 2.5 which is the average household size in Walla Walla County. The 2010 non-resident fee was reviewed and approved by the Public Library Board of Trustees and the Walla Walla City Council. The cost basis of the fee when it was established is as follows: 2008 City of Walla Walla General Fund Support General Fund Administrative Cost Endowment Funding Building Cost (50 year average) Allocated Cost of Prior Year’s Collections (10 year average) TOTAL VALUE Divided by 2008 City of Walla Walla Population Per Capita Cost Multiplied by Average Walla Walla County Household Size 2010 Non-Resident Card Fee (rounded down) $ $ $ $ $ $ 1,075,690 112,947 12,550 220,800 316,929 1,738,916 ÷31,485 $ 55.22 × 2.5 $ 135.00
According to the previously cited library card report to the City Council for College Place, the number of non-resident card holders had dropped significantly since the fee was raised from $50 to $135 in 2009. Alternatively, College Place residents are purchasing non-resident library cards for $35 at Milton-Freewater Public Library in Oregon which is about 8 miles distant.
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OPTIONS FOR FUNDING PUBLIC LIBRARIES IN WASHINGTON
The State of Washington has two main categories of tax-supported public libraries: the municipal library and the library district. The state currently has 37 municipal libraries and 24 library districts. These types of libraries and the manner of establishing them are set forth in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW): Chapter 35 for municipal libraries and Chapter 27 for library districts. Cities and library districts have taxing authority. Library districts in Washington serve the unincorporated rural areas of two or more counties, a single county, a partial county, or an island. The most prominent types of library districts are rural county library districts and intercounty rural library districts. The RCW allows for cities and towns to annex to an existing library district. Annexation is further discussed below. Library districts are supported primarily by a property tax levy but may collect other revenues as well. Once established, library districts have the authority to levy a non-voter approved property tax of up to $0.50/$1,000 of assessed valuation14, subject to the 101% levy lid.15 There are other organizing patterns for public libraries in Washington but these utilize the taxing authority of their existing governmental units. Governmental units that have authority to establish a library may contract for all or some of their library services. Two or more governmental units may together establish a regional library by contract and fund it by comingling some or all of their library funding. Contracts between and among governmental units are called interlocal agreements. In Walla Walla County is a mix of these organizing models. Walla Walla and Waitsburg have municipal libraries. The RLD district is a county library district. The town of Prescott contracts for library services with the RLD and the RLD contracts for some of its services with the City of Walla Walla. The City of College Place does not have taxsupported library services. The table below is from the Washington State Library’s Trustees Reference Manual; it summarizes the manner in which libraries are established or adjoined and cites the relevant RCW reference16.
RCW 27.12.050 & 27.12.150
Refers to the tax limit resulting from Initiative 747 whereby a taxing authority is limited to collecting no more than 1% increase in the dollar value of the highest amount collected in the preceding three years.
The table is from the Trustees Reference Manual published by the Washington State Library. According to Washington State Library officials, the Handbook is dated and under revision. The RCW has been the source used by the consultant for identifying the options in this study. Where statements in the Trustees Reference Manual were ambiguous or seemed contradictory, the consultant conferred with Rand Simmons, Acting State Librarian, and Carolyn Petersen, Assistant Program Manager, and through them with their Municipal Services and Research Center (MSRC) lawyer for clarification.
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OPTIONS FOR LIBRARY FUNDING IN WALLA WALLA COUNTY
This project called for at least three models for structuring sustainable and effective libraries in Walla Walla County. The client group also asked for the consultant’s recommended model. Because the WWPL and the RLD are key players in the provision of library services in most of the County, all of these models are dependent on their participation. Waitsburg, Prescott, and College Place are also meant to be included. At the same time, the goal of sustainable and effective library services cannot be achieved without the participation of the WWPL and the RLD. With this in mind, the consultant identified three possible models for organizing public libraries in Walla Walla County, with three variations in the contractual model. 1. Annexation of cities and towns to the RLD 2. Regional Library with consolidate service plan and budget 3. Contractual Models The optimum model and the one recommended by the consultant is annexation of cities and towns to the RLD. In this model, the City of Walla Walla would annex to the RLD, and ideally so would the City of College Place, the town of Waitsburg, and the town of Prescott. The next section of this report expands on each of the models, describing advantages disadvantages, issues, and where applicable, funding and governance.
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RECOMMENDED MODEL: ANNEXATION TO THE RURAL LIBRARY DISTRICT
For library purposes, a city or town may annex to an existing library district. The RCW allows for such annexation in Chapter 2717. Annexation would be initiated by the adoption of a City Council ordinance for each annexing jurisdiction. The RLD Board of Trustees would need to issue a resolution consenting to the annexation. Ultimately, annexation requires approval of voters in each annexing jurisdiction.
The critical advantage of this option over others is that it would establish a dedicated revenue source for library services, countywide. The other revenue sources of the RLD could also be applied to services countywide and some additional revenues from these sources would undoubtedly accrue as the result of the annexations. Overall, the per capita revenue to provide library services would increase and this would help the library system improve services to county residents. For example, the estimated 2011 per capita revenue for library services countywide would increase from the current $32.71 to $39.44. This level of funding per capita would compare more favorably to the population cohort group and could enable the library system to increase services to county residents. A solid funding base and the consolidation of administration and support functions together would facilitate a sustainable library system. Some savings from consolidation could be reallocated to functions such as public relations and fund development while others could be allocated to direct public service and a technology replacement schedule, for example. A unified administration could acquire grants from public and private sources to benefit the entire county. A single non-profit library foundation could be established to focus on additional support for facilities, technology, and programs. Use of the libraries for the public could be simplified through common policies and practices across the county.
Any city or town with a population of one hundred thousand or less at the time of annexation may become a part of any rural county library district, island library district, or intercounty rural library district lying contiguous thereto by annexation in the following manner: The inclusion of such a city or town may be initiated by the adoption of an ordinance by the legislative authority thereof stating its intent to join the library district and finding that the public interest will be served thereby. Before adoption, the ordinance shall be submitted to the library board of the city or town for its review and recommendations. If no library board exists in the city or town, the state librarian shall be notified of the proposed ordinance. If the board of trustees of the library district concurs in the annexation, notification thereof shall be transmitted to the legislative authority or authorities of the counties in which the city or town is situated. RCW 27.12.360
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In addition, the significant reserves of the RLD could be strategically and judiciously used over time to improve and expand technology, services, and facilities while retaining a healthy reserve to sustain the library system. An additional advantage of annexation is that the annexing jurisdiction’s local tax rate could be reduced. Alternatively, the revenue previously used for the library could be reallocated for other purposes.
Annexation has three chief disadvantages. Annexation would increase the tax burden on property owners in the annexing jurisdictions, unless the jurisdictions lower their existing tax rates commensurately. With annexation, the City Council of the annexing jurisdiction would no longer control its library. Governance would transfer to the library district Board of Trustees. In jurisdictions with existing libraries, the sense of ownership and pride of ownership of the library can feel like a significant loss to the community and to elected officials.
The governing body for the RLD is its Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees is made up of five members appointed by the Walla Walla County Commissioners. See the following heading in this section called ―Issues‖ and the heading ―Annexation Agreement‖ for additional information related to the Board of Trustees.
The annexation would cause the existing district tax rate to be levied on properties in the annexed areas. The effect would be an overall increase in library funding compared to now for the newly constituted larger library district. The taxing authority of the RLD is up to.50/$1,000 of assessed valuation, subject to tax limitations imposed by the RCW. Because the WWPL is indispensable for provision of services to both City and RLD residents, the City of Walla Walla is the most crucial annexation. However, College Place, Prescott, and Waitsburg could also annex to the RLD and thereby make the taxing base countywide. To illustrate the effect of having a dedicated tax base, the following table compares the combined 2011 operating budgets of the RLD including Prescott, WWPL, and Waitsburg and the average annual reimbursement amount paid by College Place for library cards18 with the estimated operating revenues if all four jurisdictions were presently annexed to the RLD.
Includes $1,834, an average annual cost from a report to College Place City Council dated October 25, 2010
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Note that the revenue accounts are those of the RLD and except for the real and personal property tax account, the amounts are for the year ending June 2010. The two columns on the right are the estimated district taxes at two rates: the lowest rate it has been in the last decade and the highest rate it can be by law. The total estimated revenue ranges from a low of $2,312,494 to a high of $2,486,664. This is not an exact calculation of revenue but an approximation for illustrative purposes. The variance at the bottom of the table is the difference between the current 2011 operating budgets combined and the revenue that would likely accrue to a countywide district at .4638 cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation and at .50 cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. Note the per capita revenue would increase considerably, putting it on a par with the norm amongst its population cohort.
RLD Estimated Revenue with Walla Walla, Waitsburg, Prescott, and College Place (2011-based) @0.4638 $ 1,922,944 Real and Personal Property Tax Private Timber Harvest Taxes Leasehold Excise Tax PUD Privilege Tax Charges for services Investment Interest Library fines Reimbursements Donations Book sale Other grants @ 0.50
Estimated Revenue for a Countywide Library District (2011-based), low and high current population of the county 2011 operating budgets combined 58781
AV*.4638-.50 /1000 12-year average RLD actual 2010 RLD actual 2010 RLD actual 2010 RLD actual 2010 RLD actual 2010 RLD actual 2010 RLD actual 2010 RLD actual 2010 RLD actual 2010 Total estimated revenue variance per capita countywide
$ 2,246,014 $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ 32.71 $ 1,577 12,351 4,485 158 21,194 158 15,321 3,320 16 7,900 389,550 39.34
$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $
2,420,164 1,577 12,351 4,485 158 21,194 158 15,321 3,320 16 7,900 2,486,664 563,700 42.30
The annual tax levy authority of the district is authorized by RCW 27.12.050, 27.12.150, and 27.12.240. The city or cities would be entitled to levy up to $3.60 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation less any regular levy made by the library district. All of the jurisdictions appear to be within a tax ceiling that would allow for this additional tax. The current tax rate (cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation) of each of the four municipalities in the County is:
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Jurisdiction City of Walla Walla City of College Place Town of Waitsburg Town of Prescott
General Fund Tax Rate $/M $2.381062
$2.128609 $2.439659 $2.618728
There are a number of issues that typically arise with any annexation. It is one of the goals of this study to identify key issues so that the parties can address them in the period leading up to the annexation process. It takes time to make the decision to annex and the consultant advises that the parties begin immediately to discuss these and other issues in a formal way. Typical issues include the ownership and maintenance of the library buildings, the makeup of the library board, and what happens to current staff and unions of the annexing jurisdictions. In addition, the idea of annexation of the largest library in the county, WWPL, to the RLD raises concerns in the City about the RLD’s know-how when it comes to operating a large public library. It also has given rise to expressions of concern about the performance measures of the RLD. The concept of ―return to source‖ comes up in an annexation (and in the regional model).―Return to source‖ is shorthand for the expectation that expenditures for services in a given area should approximate revenues collected from that area. These can be issues to a greater or lesser degree in all three of the models. They need to be addressed forthrightly in the process leading up to the adoption of any of the models.
Annexing jurisdictions may pass the related liabilities of a facility upgrade or library property or building acquisition to the library district, provided this is stated in the ordinance for annexation and in the resolution of the district consenting to annexation. However any current outstanding voted bond indebtedness for acquiring, operating, or maintaining the library, would not be assumed by the annexing district unless approved by three-fifths of the voters of the library district at a general or special election called by the library district board of trustees. Annexing jurisdictions have followed a variety of courses in addressing the facility issue and there are many examples that can be garnered from other library annexation experiences.
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Governance of a library district is by the five-member Board of Trustees appointed by the County Commissioners. This can be an issue for annexing jurisdictions who have developed their libraries and had control over them. There is a tendency to be concerned that the Board of Trustees will be unable to transfer its loyalties to a broader constituency. Ultimately, the decision about whom to appoint is that of the County Commissioners. However, there is precedence in Pierce County Library System and in Sno-Isle Libraries, both of which are library districts, for having worked with their county commissioners to adopt an appointment process for selecting the library board of trustees. The stakeholders are encouraged to follow up with Neel Parikh at Pierce County Library System and Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory at Sno-Isle Libraries regarding these processes. Exhibit E, Trustee’s Vacancy Calendar from Pierce County Library System outlines a process for selecting a board of trustees which has been approved by the county commissioners in that county.
What happens to the personnel who are employed by the annexing jurisdictions in the course of the annexation varies. A labor union of an annexing jurisdiction has no standing in the district although a union can form in the district. Salaries and benefits are determined by the district. Seniority cannot be guaranteed. There are many issues that would need to be clarified including revisiting the salary schedule for the RLD to insure that it is competitive in the urban as well as the rural market.
All of the public libraries in Walla Walla County have room for improvement when it comes to performance measures, perhaps in large part because they are underfunded relative to public library funding norms in Washington. In addition, the RLD and the WWPL and City of Walla Walla have not worked effectively together to provide a coordinated service plan for the County, despite their interdependent funding model. The annexation option is an opportunity to commit to an improved, consolidated service plan that has as its goal dramatically accelerating the use of the libraries by County residents. Given the financial benefits of the annexation in sustaining library services in the county, the parties should be willing to take the risk. It will be critical that the County Commissioners mandate that the governors and library director provide an equitable, countywide library plan of service that continuously integrates industry best practices.
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RETURN TO SOURCE
Often, people expect that the revenue expended in a given jurisdiction or area of a jurisdiction should at least equal the revenue obtained in property taxes from the area. However, the purpose of a district library system or a regional library as proposed by the consultant is to use the collective resources to provide an efficient and effective service program within available resources. The concept of equity is vital. Equity of service recognizes that even while a consolidated program must be efficient, it must also recognize and address the diverse needs of the service area. The Walla Walla County service area is urban, suburban, and rural. The district (or regional) library system must address these diverse needs in a fair-minded way. Return to source is only one measure a consolidate system should use in cross-checking its service plan and budget for equity.
THE ANNEXATION PROCESS
Annexation would be initiated by the adoption of a City Council ordinance. The RLD Board of Trustees would need to issue a resolution consenting to the annexation. The ordinance would state for the jurisdiction, such as the City of Walla Walla, its intent to join the RLD and that the public interest will be served by so doing. The city officials would notify the Washington State Librarian of the proposed ordinance and with his concurrence, transmit notification thereof to the Walla Walla County Commissioners. The County Commissioners would by resolution call a special election to be held in the jurisdiction at the next special election date according to RCW 29A.04.321 and cause notice of that election to be given as provided for in RCW 29A.53.351. Voter approval of annexation to the RLD would be by a simple majority vote. The jurisdiction could also withdraw from the district by a majority vote of its people at a general election after three or more years. Annexation could also be again re-instated by the same process. Exhibit D includes an annexation process explanation that could be used by any and all of the jurisdictions. It is taken from the Washington State Library’s Trustee Reference Manual. The consultant has included in this report an annexation procedure and timeline calibrated to the 2011 and 2012 elections and the earliest tax collection schedule along with the Transition Plan in this report.
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Exhibit D makes reference to an ―Annexation Agreement.‖ It is important to note that an annexation agreement is not a requirement of law19. The consultant conferred with the State Library on the practice of annexation agreements and found that MSRC does not recommend or state that such an agreement is a best practice. Rather, MSRC surmises that the practice has come about as a tool for parties who may want to make sure that they agree on particular items as a condition of agreeing to annex. For illustrative purposes, Exhibit E is an ―Agreement in the Event of Annexation‖ between Fife and Pierce County Library System. Such agreements do not always accompany an annexation process. As Ms. Woolf-Ivory notes in Exhibit D, responsibility for the facility is almost always an issue in an annexation, and it is usually necessary to clarify this before parties are willing to proceed with an annexation. An agreement prior to annexation can be a tool for documenting the parties’ intentions concerning some of the issues that have been discussed in the period leading up to annexation.
The term “annexation agreement” is not in the RCW.
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REGIONAL LIBRARY MODEL
The legislative bodies of two or more governmental units such as the City of Walla Walla and the RLD may join in establishing and maintaining a regional library under the terms of a contract. The treasurer of one of the governmental units, as provided in the contract, would have custody of the funds and the other governmental units would transfer their portions of funds quarterly to the designated governmental unit treasurer. The funds are for free public library purposes. A participating governmental unit can withdraw its participation and is entitled to a division of the property on the basis of its contributions20. The expenses of the library would be apportioned between or among the contracting parties as agreed upon in the contract. A regional library does not have unto itself taxing authority. The governing authority of the partner jurisdictions each has its authority to levy taxes. In this case, resources in some of the jurisdictions (Walla Walla and Waitsburg) are below the norm or virtually non-existent (College Place). Of course each of these jurisdictions could at some point be better positioned to increase funding for library services but it is not likely given the effect of tax reductions and limitations made worse by general economic downturn of the last several years. Therefore, the reason to create a regional library would be to reduce redundancy in functions and operations so as to conserve costs and to pool resources and reallocate them to a single service plan. If the regional library model becomes the goal of two or more jurisdictions in the County, the consultant recommends full comingling of revenues, full consolidation, and a single plan of service and budget. Given current funding levels it most certainly is necessary in Walla Walla County where the combined public library revenues per capita are below the norm. To be sustainable with current funding levels, every effort will have to be made through consolidation of functions and operations to be exceptionally efficient.
The regional model gives the players an opportunity to reallocate relatively scare funds to a service plan that transcends jurisdictional boundaries. It is an opportunity to adopt a countywide service plan that simplifies rules of use for the public. It could result in efficiencies that could allow funds to be reallocated for direct services. Local jurisdictions retain control of their libraries even though they will have agreed to a consolidated service plan and budget. Though not easy, it is easier to withdraw from a regional contract than from a library district. If the goal of the jurisdictions becomes to create a countywide district through annexation, the regional model could be transitional to annexation. This model would
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be like the district in that it would consolidate operations and functions but without a countywide dedicated source of funding for library services. The regional model could also be a fall-back option if annexation proved impossible. Therefore, it makes sense to begin discussions and design of a regional service plan and budget.
Designing and implementing a regional model is difficult and time consuming. That is probably why there are no true regional libraries in Washington, except as a few may contain the word in the name. Though not easy, it is easier to pull out of a regional system than from a library district. If the jurisdictions go down this path and consolidate services it would be costly and difficult to turn back if one or more of the partners cannot make good on the finances. Fiscal difficulties will undoubtedly make co-planning conflictual, not unlike contractual negotiations have been between Walla Walla and the RLD. A target revenue amount would have to be set for the City and agreeable to the RLD Board of Trustees. The incumbent City Council at the time of the consolidation could not commit future City Councils to the arrangement. For its part, the RLD Board of Trustees would understandably be wary of a regional library model because of the imbalance in local revenue and because the City could not guarantee a sustained level of funding. The Board’s experience with the City contract could make it wary of the Regional model. Under the best of circumstances, this model is very labor intensive because it takes a great deal of time and energy for two governing bodies to consolidate functions and to co-plan. This is even more difficult when the governing bodies are mistrustful of one another. There would likely be an imbalance in the authority of the two bodies responsible for coplanning: it would be the Board of Trustees for the RLD and either an officer of the City or the City’s Library Board which is advisory. In either case, decision-making authority on the City’s part would be at the City Council level and one or two steps removed from the co-planning table where the RLD Board of Trustees would have and want its counterpart to have decision-making authority.
It is questionable whether or not a regional library must have a library board. Unlike other types of library districts, the regional library district is not an independent authority nor does it have statutory powers. 21 However, as a practical matter, a regional library board for the purposes of consolidating the service plan and budget could be made up
Steve Lundin, "The Closest Governments to the People" (WSU 2007), Chapter 20, p. 449 Page 44 of 72
of members of the participating library boards. The precedent exists in the case of the former Yakima Regional Library for a library board. 22 There are presently no active, true regional libraries though some other types of library districts may have ―regional‖ in the name.23
In the regional model as proposed, the key issues described in the Annexation Model section also come into play: facilities, governance, personnel, performance, and return to source. There are additional issues related to the regional model, however. Chief amongst these is establishing a standard of funding for the jurisdictions and a level of service commensurate with the funding contribution. This can be very difficult and it is the reason to pool resources and devise a consolidated service plan.
STANDARD OF FUNDING AND LEVELS OF SERVICE
If jurisdictions are bringing different funding levels, whether in terms of cents per thousand or per capita revenues, what is the minimum level and what happens to the regional library if one or more jurisdictions cannot maintain effort?
It is also a given that the residents of the regional partners would be able to enjoy the full use of any and all libraries in the partnership. Likewise, the regional library would be a single member of WALNET and thereby enjoy the privileges of that membership.
Based on 2011 funding levels, a regional library that included the RLD and by contract with the RLD, Prescott, WWPL, and Waitsburg have combined revenues of $1,921,110. One of the givens of this study has been that the optimum model would span the County. In that case, College Place which does not have a municipal library could join the countywide effort either by annexing to the RLD or by using City funds to contract with one of the existing library jurisdictions College Place’s annexation to the RLD would add an estimated $241,552 to the RLD, in 2011 dollars. This would bring the countywide per capita up to $36.79 from $32.71. The annexation option is recommended because it would permanently add to the tax base of the RLD and therefore to the regional resources. In the latter option, the contract would most likely be with the City of Walla Walla because of College Place’s proximity to the WWPL. However, it could also be with the RLD if both the WWPL and the RLD are parties to the regional agreement. Just as
Yakima had contracted for services in the Yakima Regional Library District but annexed to the district in 2007. Rand Simmons, Program Manager for Library Development, Washington State Library
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Prescott now contracts with the RLD at a rate equal to the RLD’s tax rate, so should it be with the College Place contract. Prescott could also annex to the RLD but its contribution now which is at the same rate per thousand as the RLD would generate the same revenue. The advantage of annexation is that the rate would be secured. In the regional model, the City and the RLD at least would have to combine funds and develop a consolidated single service plan for their combined service area. Prescott already has a contract with the RLD and this would hopefully continue. College Place could annex to the RLD and this would generate about $224,000 in additional revenue for the RLD. So the regional library could have as much as $2,162,662 in combined revenue. This would have the effect of creating a countywide system and funding a single service plan with the combined revenues.
An alternative to establishing or maintaining an independent library is to contract for services. The legislative body of any governmental unit authorized to maintain a library has the power to contract to receive library service from an existing library. Such a contract requires that the existing library perform all the functions of a library within the governmental unit wanting service.24 The contract method has been employed in Walla Walla County: in Prescott which contracts with the RLD and with the RLD which contracts with the City of Walla Walla. The model works in Prescott which pays the RLD the same rate for services as the RLD’s tax rate. As previously explained, the contract between the RLD and the City of Walla Walla has been in dispute and the parties have not been able to find a compensation model that mutually acceptable. The contractual relationship between the City of Walla Walla and the RLD is more akin to a regional library contract than a contract for the purposes described in the RCW. Contracting might be workable between the RLD and the City of Walla Walla but it is not a solution for sustainable countywide library services at this time. It would not address the absence of library funding in College Place nor the below average funding of libraries in the City of Walla Walla and Waitsburg. Another way to make a contract between the City of Walla Walla and the RLD work is to reverse the contractual relationship. That is, the City of Walla Walla could contract with
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the RLD to operate the WWPL. For example, the RLD might be more willing to fund a library that it operates and the City’s level of funding might be adequate to the task combined with those of the RLD. If annexation of the City of Walla Walla to the RLD proves to be impossible to bring about, and if there is not sufficient interest in the regional model described in this report, the contractual model may continue to be the most serviceable option for WWPL and the RLD.
The main advantage of a contractual relationship is that it gives jurisdictions that do not have library services at all, or in an area of their jurisdictions, an alternative to establishing a library. Compared to the other models suggested in this report, the contractual model affords the greatest amount of local control to each jurisdiction. The governing bodies of the contracting jurisdictions remain in control of the agreement and do not give up authority over their libraries. The contractual model allows a great deal of flexibility. Service provision can be in whole or in part and terms can be modified to meet changing circumstances. Contracts can be used in very creative ways and can be adjusted frequently and relatively easily.
Contracting for services does not directly address the problem of below average funding of library services in Walla Walla County. Contracting takes time and is not always congenial. Negotiations can break down and contracts can be terminated, leaving residents without these important services.
The contractual conflict between the City of Walla Walla and the RLD is the most immediate issue in the County concerning the sustainability and effectiveness of public library services. This conflict has been described previously in this report. For a contract to work, the parties have to agree that the compensation for services is appropriate and fair. To establish a workable compensation model between the City of Walla Walla and the RLD, the City first needs to establish its baseline operating revenue budget for its municipal library. The operating expenditure budget should match the operating revenue that the City can afford to provide to City residents. Once this is known, a number of measures that might be used in a contractual compensation
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formula will be clearer: per capita revenue, per capita expenditures, cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation, and so forth. The parties should decide if the contract is based on providing access regardless of use, on services used, or on both. The true nature of the relationship has to be clarified. Then it would possible to determine an appropriate basis. Various compensation formulas have been suggested over time, including several in the Haley Report. These have focused on trying to find a formula for sharing the cost of the library based on expenditures. The problem with this method is that the City, not the RLD, controls the expenditures. The RLD is not likely to fund on a proportionate basis a budget over which it has no control.
The City needs money to operate the WWPL and has become dependent on the RLD to help fund the library. This is a different relationship than one in which the WWPL is fully funded and would then base a contract on recovering its additional costs related to serving an additional population. The parties should look at parity in revenues contributed, in negotiating their contract. For example, the City and the RLD could use the local operating revenue per capita as the basis for determining the contract amount. If the per capita local revenue contribution of the City for the WWPL is $21.86, the RLD could compensate the City on this per capita basis for residents in Fire Districts 4 and 8, for example. A different approach to compensation based on revenue contributions is to build the contract on what the RLD would add to the City’s service plan and budget. For example, the parties could agree that the RLD would fund,: Additional public service staff to open the WWPL a specified number of additional days and hours Additional funding for the collections (e.g., a partial match of dollars spent per capita by WWPL for library collections) Supplemental youth programming (e.g. staff and supplies) to enable the WWPL to extend services and outreach beyond the city limits.
Just as the City would determine what it can afford to pay for library services to its residents, the RLD also would determine what it could afford to pay for library services from the WWPL for the residents of Fire District 4 and 8. The City’s per capita local operating revenue for its library could be a target amount for such additional services. The WWPL is very important in the overall service plan of the RLD and this must be acknowledged. The City must appreciate that the WWPL, though a major component of
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the RLD service plan, is not the RLD’s whole service plan. The RLD has a rural as well as a suburban population to serve. The cost of providing services in rural communities tends to be higher than in more densely populated suburban and urban centers. The City and the RLD need each other to make services accessible, convenient, and uncomplicated for the people of Walla Walla County. They really must find a way to make the relationship work because if they don’t the public is the loser.
ALTERNATIVE CONTRACTUAL MODEL
The RLD has contracted with the City of Walla Walla for 36 years but it is also possible for the City to contract for library services with the RLD. Taken to the extreme, the City could divest itself of its municipal library, sell the library facility to the RLD, and contract for services from the RLD according to mutually agreeable service specifications. Alternatively, the City and the RLD could take a more modest approach whereby the City retains the building and outsources the provision of library services to the RLD. This could be undertaken as a medium term measure, for instance, for a period of five years after which time the City might be in a better position to fund the library. The RLD could hire and supervise library staff and use the current facility as a library outlet in a regional library model or simply as a provider, on contract. The library could continue to be identified with the City of Walla Walla, but the RLD would run it, and it would also be associated with the RLD. Because the RLD would be using its funding as well, it could consolidate functions of both current operations for the sake of efficiency. The service plan of the Walla Walla library would be part of an overall RLD service model. The City would pay a sum of money to the RLD annually according to a multiyear contract. This model could be used in transition to the annexation of the City of Walla Walla to the RLD as well. In that case, ownership issues could be worked out in advance of the formation in consideration of the eventual migration to a consolidated district. The advantage of this model to the City of Walla Walla is that the City enables the services to be provided without having to be in the library business. One scenario could be that the City agrees to pay for a prescribed number of hours of operation and the staff needed for those hours at that location. The RLD could apply its resources to increase hours and to deliver programming and outreach and other services that it has found lacking and that the City has been unable to afford. This gives the RLD an opportunity to use the facility which is proximate to its suburban population to provide its service program.
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Because it would be an RLD outlet, the RLD could use some of its reserves to have an active equipment replacement schedule, replacing computers in a timely way, experimenting with computer loaning as many libraries are now doing, and in other ways providing what the City may not have been able to provide due to its more limited resources. The City and the RLD could each be responsible for funding the collection. The key to sorting out the details of an agreement is to be very frank and clear about the intentions--short, medium, and long term. The reverse contract has the potential to be a win/win arrangement, providing for the City a portion of the funding that is needed to bring the local operating revenue closer to the norm while giving the RLD control of the service plan. Meanwhile, there continues to be a public library in the City of Walla Walla, possibly with more hours of service, collections, and technology. An additional advantage of this model to both parties is the potential for a relatively smooth transition from the current situation to a larger library district or to a future scenario in which the City has annexed properties that are now in the RLD service area. As the tax base changes for both of these jurisdictions the WWPL torch can be passed back to a City that may be better able to fund its library in the future. Or, as is now the case, the City may have higher priorities that must be funded and the contractual arrangement could continue or the RLD could decide it is in its best interests to serve its residents in another way. The landscape is constantly changing and the key to effective library service in Walla Walla County is to be able to adapt in a way that works for the public.
WALNET AND ITS INTER-LOCAL AGREEMENT
As previously described, WALNET is a consortium that exists by virtue of an agreement between the City of Walla Walla, the RLD, and the Walla Walla Community College. The Interlocal agreement is a vehicle for interlibrary cooperation between these entities and others that might join in the future. An interlocal agreement provides a durable structure for the signatories to cooperatively provide library services. Essentially, WALNET could be an umbrella structure for a countywide library system that includes all of the jurisdictions. However, creating such a system would not generate additional revenue for the public libraries in the County and this is a paramount need for sustainable and effective library services to be achieved. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that this existing interlocal agreement can be used in a variety of ways to combine and leverage resources across jurisdictions and types of libraries in Walla Walla County.
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WALNET FUTURE ROLE
One of the purposes of this study was to clarify the role of WALNET. As previously stated, a consortium is not a replacement for public libraries. WALNET should be a conduit for increasing efficiency among the members and for providing transparency of services to those served by the libraries. WALNET’s role becomes more closely defined as the funding issues become resolved. WALNET should facilitate resource sharing among public, academic, and special libraries in the County and in the larger region, including the Columbia County Rural Library District (CCLD) to the east, the Mid-Columbia Library System to the west, library systems and consortia to the north, and south into Oregon. WALNET should connect sustainable and effective library systems of different types for the benefit of the residents of Walla Walla County. Once public library funding is stabilized, reciprocity between the public libraries and other types of libraries in the County and the region might be more fully achieved. For example, the Orbis Cascade Alliance courier service is broad-reaching25 and WALNET could facilitate the consortium member’s easy and full use of that service. The common denominator for membership in WALNET should continue to be the ILS and the database. WALNET should establish a five year ―strategic agenda‖ of initiatives toward which it will work. WALNET has the potential to facilitate and coordinate other cooperative services with library jurisdictions and consortia of the region. This is something that its Board can authorize and fund; for example, linking courier services, interlibrary loan, resource sharing, staff training and development, and so forth. These services would be identified by the member libraries in conversation with library boards and directors of the region. The process could involve WALNET hosting a meeting of the region’s library representatives to identify common needs, priorities for region, and to plan and share the costs of providing the most important regional needs. These services and programs should be dynamic, changing as needs change. WALNET could be the agent to identify these needs.
The Penrose Library at Whitman College and the Walla Walla University Library in College Place each has an Alliance courier drop site on their campuses. Walla Walla Community College shares the drop site fee with Whitman College and participates in the courier service at the Penrose Library. Returnable interlibrary loan/requests destined for the Clarkston Center are delivered via a Pony Express contract (WWCC) with daily transport to the Clarkston Center library. The Whitman drop site also serves as a WALNET exchange site for borrow/loans within WALNET and is utilized by WWCC, the RLD, and WWPL. Lewis-Clark College in Asotin County as well as the University of Idaho and Washington State University are ORBIS Cascade Alliance drop sites and therefore connect Walla Walla County to this courier network.
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TRANSITION PLAN AND TIMELINE
The plan for transitioning to the consultant’s recommended model, which is the creation of a countywide district through the annexation of the municipalities to the RLD, along with a timeline is in the following table. Should annexation measures fail, the alternative recommended model is the creation of a regional library with a single consolidated service plan and budget (CPB). The transition plan would be the same either way. The major steps include negotiating an interim contract between the RLD and the City of Walla Walla, making the case for annexation with the cities and towns in the County, developing a CPB, and implementing the CPB consistent with the outcome of the voting on annexation measures.
TRANSITION PLAN : FROM INDEPENDENT LIBRARIES TO COUNTYWIDE LIBRARY DISTRICT Timeline Transition Plan Activities Summer1.0 Negotiate the contract between the RLD and the WWC for Jan 2012-Dec 2013 Fall 2011 1.1 RLD and WWC accept consultant's recommendation for contract basis 1.2 City of Walla Walla and RLD prepare contract 1.3 RLD Board and City of Walla Walla sign the contract agreement Summer 2.0 Make the case for annexation with the City of Walla Walla 2011 College Place, Prescott, and Waitsburg
Fall 2011Winter 2012
2.1 WALNET extends consultant contract to make the case with Cities and Towns 2.2 Consultant, RLD meet informally with College Place, Prescott, Waitsburg, explore interest 2.3 Consultant does appropriate follow-up with city and town representatives 2.4 WALNET Chair convenes annexation interest group informational and organizing meeting 2.5 Consultant facilitates annexation interest group informational and organizing meeting 2.6 RLD and cities/towns may develop "in the event of library annexation" agreements 3.0 Develop Consolidated Library Services Plan and Budget (CPB)and implementation schedule 3.1 WALNET extends consultant contract or secures alternative agent 3.2 Jurisdictions authorize agent to develop CPB in consultation with library leaders & boards 3.3 Consultant develops proposed CPB and Implementation Schedule 4.0 Implement CPB dependent on election outcome and according to Schedule
Jan 2012Dec 2014
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FORMAL ANNEXATION PROCEDURE
The following table shows the steps in the formal annexation procedure. The particular timeline was built around the next election filing deadline of August 16, 2011 for the November 8, 2011 election. Approval of an annexation by the voters on November 11, 2011 would mean that revenues for the annexed municipality would be levied starting in November 2012. The first half of property taxes is due in April and therefore the first revenues from the annexation(s) would be paid to the RLD in May/June of 2013. The next election filing deadline would be December 30, 2011 for the February 14, 2012 special election. April 17, 2012 is the last election opportunity if the tax revenue is to be levied in November 2012. The filing deadline for the April 17, 2012 election is March 2, 2012. Otherwise, the tax will be levied in the following November and the earliest tax revenues for the annexed area would be received by the RLD in May/June 2014.
Formal Annexation Procedure (Assumes public meetings and public input) Municipality begins formal annexation procedure Municipality submits a proposed ordinance stating its intent to join the library district to its library board for review and recommendations Municipality notifies State Librarian of the proposed ordinance Municipality adopts the proposed ordinance Municipality submitted to the Regional Library Board of Trustees for its consideration Municipality makes request for RLD Board action on an annexation ( at least one week prior to RLD meeting) RLD Takes action Municipality submits annexation and special election request to the county commission County Commission calls a special election by resolution to the county auditor first Tuesday after the first Monday in November 2011 second Tuesday in February 2012 third Tuesday in April 2012 day of the primary as specified by RCW 29A.04.311
mid July meeting
By 4 p.m. August 16 Nov 8 2011 June 1 2012 Nov. 2012 April 2013 May 2013
Election filing deadline Election (at the earliest) Annexation approved no later than, for earliest tax collection purposes County levies tax for larger district (if annexation(s) approved by voters first half of property taxes due in April Payments to RLD begin
Notes: Cities assume all costs related to an annexation election A simple majority of those casting a vote determines the outcome of the election Annexation may be reversed by a city council-initiated special election any time 3 years or more after the election
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The public libraries in the various jurisdictions of Walla Walla County need each other to provide the best possible library services to their residents. With per capita funding for public libraries below state norms and with virtually no local operating funding from College Place, annexation of the municipalities to the RLD is the most promising structural model for sustainable library services. Annexation would raise the per capita revenue bar and provide a relatively stable source of dedicated library funding. Annexation would enable the consolidation of services, more efficient use of funds, the expansion of services, and easier use of libraries by the public. As important, it would provide a dedicated, relatively stable base of funding for library services throughout the County. This funding could be leveraged to secure grants, establish a library foundation, and build the sustainability of public libraries in Walla Walla County. To achieve this model, the City of Walla Walla, as well as the City of College Place, and the towns of Waitsburg and Prescott would annex to the RLD, creating a county-wide district and consolidating the administration and support functions. Library services could be provided through all of the district outlets, including the WWPL. The larger district could be renamed to reflect its broader span. The annexation of the City of Walla Walla to the RLD is essential because it secures a rate of funding for library services that would equal that of the existing RLD. Without the WWPL, the residents of the district, particularly those residing in the unincorporated area of the City of Walla Walla, would be deprived of convenient access to a full-service public library. In looking towards the economic future of Walla Walla County, it is important to provide for the needs and expectations of a growing population. In striving to negotiate a sustainable model for library services, the jurisdictions should look to the future with the goal of providing the best possible library services to the residents of Walla Walla County.
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The consultant reviewed background documents supplied by each of the three WALNET jurisdictions. The consultant also made an interview site visit (February 2011) and a datagathering site visit (March 2-4, 2011). The consultant met with and interviewed the project’s clients and facilitated two meetings of stakeholders. The consultant also toured the library facilities at WWPL, the WWCRLD, and the WWCC Library. Following the site visits, the consultant reviewed all documents obtained during the visits and by email. She also conducted additional interviews by telephone with members of the RLD who were not able to be present during the consultant’s onsite visits. She consulted various resources online to obtain needed information. The consultant also conferred with the Acting State Librarian, Rand Simmons, and several of the Washington State Library staff to obtain information and data. The consultant presented her preliminary report to the client and stakeholders on June 6, 2011 for discussion. The purpose of that visit was to present and discuss preliminary findings, conclusions, and recommendations and to discuss the models. The consultant subsequently did additional fact-finding for this final draft. Following her presentation of her final draft on June 29-30, 2011, the consultant will provide the final report in digital form to the client.
ABOUT THE CONSULTANT
Ruth Metz Associates specializes in library strategic planning, organizational development, and leadership development. Her credentials include an MLS and extensive experience as a library manager in public libraries, state agencies, consortia, and special libraries. Her firm’s purpose is to help community and library leaders as they assess, plan, develop, and manage their libraries and organizations. Ruth conducts feasibility assessments for library districts, options studies for libraries, constructs structural, organizational, and services models and plans for public libraries and library districts. She works independently as well as with proven associates on mult-faceted projects. Her associates include architects, attorneys, technologists, and futurists. Ruth Metz Associates assesses organizational effectiveness and coaches organizations, boards, executives, and emergent leaders. She has written about organizational effectiveness and has coached leaders and teams through organizational change. A revised edition of her book, Coaching and the Library: A Management Strategy for Achieving Excellence was published by ALA in January 2011. Her most recent article about organizational effectiveness was published in March 2010 in American Libraries and is available on her website (www.librarycoach.com)
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EXHIBIT A: WALNET MEMBER INDIVIDUAL SERVICE AREAS
The map below indicates the general service areas for the three WALNET members. It includes approximations of county and municipal borders that are not drawn explicitly to legal boundaries. It is meant for summary purposes only. This was map provided courtesy of Josh Westbrook, RLD.
Grey Outline – The Walla Walla Community College service area includes the counties of Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield and Asotin in Washington State. Purple Outline – The Walla Walla County Rural Library District service area includes all unincorporated areas of Walla Walla County and the City of Prescott which maintains a contract with the district for library service. Blue Shaded Area – The Walla Walla Public Library service area is defined as within the city limits of the City of Walla Walla. Red Shaded Areas – Two incorporated cities within Walla Walla County that are not members of WALNET – the City of College Place and the City of Waitsburg.
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EXHIBIT B: WWPL SERVICE TO THE LATINO POPULATION
The following information was provided by Beth Hudson, Interim Library Director, and Liz George, Young People’s Librarian, both of the Walla Walla Public. 1. Staff: 3 bilingual employees who cover all but 6 of WWPL’s open hours Soon will post a job opening with the intent to hire a Spanish speaking employee to cover the remaining 6 hours.
2. Collections: Children’s Spanish collection Adult Spanish collection Active development of the collection Study circulation statistics, solicit purchase requests, and use all of our best collection development techniques for these collections. Subscribe to online databases in Spanish. Subscribe to the language database, Mango, which has online ESL classes
3. Programming: Host a bi-weekly evening ―practice your English or Spanish‖ conversation social, in cooperation with Blue Mountain Action Council. Provide as many of our Summer Reading Programs in both Spanish and English Programs calendar on the WWPL webpage has details of upcoming events. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo, National Hispanic Heritage Month, and as many other Latino celebrations as possible. Encourage Latino youth to volunteer and to serve on our Teen Advisory Board.
The following page further describes the youth and adult programming and services directed toward the Latino population.
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Walla Walla Public Library – Reaching Target Audiences The Walla Walla Public Library strives to reach target audiences in our community: these efforts are focused on individuals, children, families of Latino descent and those facing economic challenges. This is an ongoing, active effort.
2010 Young People’s Services outreach to target demographics: Event Participated in the Blue Ridge Literacy Night Participated in the Touchet School Literacy Night Worked with C2C girls group Blue Ridge Summer Program Farm Labor Homes Program The Ark Dayschool Host the Early Learning Fair Hosted a Head Start Family Night Hosted Blue Ridge Library Night Hosted Sharpstein Library Night # of visits 1 1 3 3 2 5 1 1 1 1 participants 150 45 90 300 300 275 150 100 70 55
Total: 20 programs reached 1535 your people and adults
The Blue Ridge and Sharpstein Library nights were new in 2010, partnering with an English Second Language teacher to reach families and provide translation. All the other programs on this list are part of the programming schedule and have been in place for two or more years.
Partnering with Walla Walla Kids Read! Reaches every student in WWPS. This program reaches 5000 students throughout Walla Walla County. Participated in the Dia Los Ninos Program with C2C: this program reaches 500 plus parents and children each year.
Volunteers: In 2010 the Library supported 3 Wa-Hi vocational program students 4 community jobs program volunteers 2 Americorp program volunteers
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10 court services volunteers
For adults the Library offered: Internet classes that often reach lower income and older adults Spanish Conversation Club
Collection, Resource and Facility Use: Public internet resources are heavily used by both target demographics. There is no way to back this up statistically other then observation and assumption based in some cases on surnames and sign-up sheets. Both DVD collections are heavily used by both demographics. There are print collections in Spanish for children, young adults, and adults. Building the collection and its use are ongoing goals. In 2010, less than 2000 items were checked out of these collections, but they fill a vital need for the pre-reader and their parents. Use of the Library and public program attendance by these demographics could be demonstrated by utilizing samples, again we could provide a fairly accurate Latino picture, but can do more than guess on the economic definer.
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EXHIBIT C: LIBRARY DATA TABLE
Year WWPL population Fire Dist 4 & 8 unincorporated pop Total lib pop (WWPL + RLD pop) WWPL local cents per $1000 City Revenue RLD Contract WWPL Total Rev % of total Rev from RLD Contract WWPL Total Revenue per/capita Local rev per cap (average for the pop cohort) WWPL per cap rev with contract/city pop only WWPL per cap rev no contract/city pop only WWPL per cap rev with contract/(RLD pop + city pop) WWPL per cap rev w/contract/(city pop + fire districts 4 and 8 uninc. pop) Rev per cap for Waitsburg, Walla Walla, RLD, and Prescott pop/total local rev RLD Local Jurisdiction Rev RLD Total Local Jur Rev - contract RLD Contract Rev (Prescott) RLD population RLD tax rate RLD per cap rev minus contract RLD per cap rev including contract Waitsburg pop 1999 29,200 7,900 46,005 $0.9870 $709,740 $246,460 $ 956,200 26% $32.75 2000 28,940 7,967 45,575 $0.5488 $558,000 $250,050 $808,050 31% $27.92 2001 29,500 8,012 46,050 $0.5772 $607,550 $262,500 $870,050 30% $29.49 2002 29,550 8,090 46,155 $0.5701 $618,050 $276,744 $894,794 31% $30.28 2003 29,710 8,135 46,425 $0.5431 $628,560 $285,760 $914,320 31% $30.77 2004 30,500 8,375 46,930 $0.5749 $692,693 $298,020 $990,713 30% $32.48 2005 30,630 8,666 47,580 $0.4320 $539,760 $307,000 $846,760 36% $27.64 2006 30,660 8,938 47,900 $0.4182 $ 609,575 $332,300 $941,875 35% $30.72 2007 30,900 9,204 48,210 $0.4148 $631,809 $342,687 $974,496 35% $31.54 2008 31,350 9,303 48,435 $0.3906 $700,986 $365,833 $1,066,819 34% $34.03 2009 31,610 9,503 48,920 $0.3769 $770,956 $235,510 $ 1,006,466 23% $31.84 2010 Unofficial 31,770 9,564 49,180 $0.3396 $694,643 $188,408 $883,051 21% $27.80
$ 34.27 $ 32.75 $ 24.31 $ 20.78 $ 25.77 $ 21.03 $ 636,571 $ 390,111 $16,805 $0.5000 $ 23.21 $ 37.88 1,199
$33.96 $27.92 $19.28 $17.73 $21.89 $19.85 $696,961 $446,911 $3,696 16,635 $ 0.5000 $26.87 $41.90 1,195
$ 34.54 $ 29.49 $ 20.59 $ 18.89 $ 23.19 $ 20.79 $ 715,141 $ 452,641 $ 3,581 16,550 $0.4953 $ 27.35 $ 43.21 1,205
$34.98 $30.28 $20.92 $19.39 $23.77 $20.83 $710,226 $433,482 $4,002 16,605 $ 0.5000 $26.11 $42.77 1,210
$35.45 $30.77 $21.16 $19.69 $24.16 $22.55 $818,606 $532,846 $4,098 16,715 $ 0.5000 $31.88 $48.97 1,210
$36.19 $32.48 $22.71 $21.11 $25.48 $24.70 $897,918 $599,898 $4,143 16,430 $ 0.4973 $36.51 $54.65 1,210
$36.68 $27.64 $17.62 $17.80 $21.55 $21.53 $871,803 $564,803 $4,050 16,950 $ 0.4984 $33.32 $51.43 1,230
$37.44 $30.72 $19.88 $19.66 $23.79 $22.67 $891,340 $559,040 $4,000 17,240 $ 0.5000 $32.43 $51.70 1,230
$39.39 $31.54 $20.45 $20.21 $24.30 $24.07 $969,595 $626,908 $5,255 17,310 $ 0.5000 $36.22 $56.01 1,230
$41.92 $34.03 $22.36 $22.03 $26.24 $25.00 $962,871 $597,038 $5,030 17,085 $ 0.4756 $34.95 $56.36 1,230
$37.90 $31.84 $24.39 $20.57 $24.48 $26.67 $ 1,023,030 $787,520 $5,563 17,310 $ 0.4638 $45.50 $59.10 1,245 $27.80 $21.86 $17.96 $21.36 $25.77 $ 1,048,241 $859,833 $5,536 17,410 0.4638 $49.39 $60.21 1,245
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EXHIBIT D: ANNEXATION GUIDE
Consultant’s note: This document is from the Public Library Trustee Reference Manual which was published by the Washington State Library in 2001. The State Library cautions that the manual is dated; however, it is under revision. This particular section is included as a reference the annexation of a city to a library district. The RCW is the authority on library laws.
LIBRARY DISTRICT ESTABLISHMENT AND CITY ANNEXATION 4.1
SETTING UP A NEW LIBRARY DISTRICT Contributed by: Karen Goettling, Library Governance and Statistics Consultant Washington State Library After proposing and placing a library district proposition on the ballot, campaigning for it, and achieving a successful citizen vote to establish the library district, the work of developing a ―real‖ library begins. There are a variety of steps that must be accomplished to legally establish the district, appoint the board, create the financial structure, and establish the initial service plans. These steps are outlined below. Certify the New District In order to collect taxes in the next succeeding year, a new district must be certified to the county and the Washington State Department of Revenue by March 1 if the district is not coterminous (e.g. not having the same boundaries) with another taxing district or by June 1 if it does have the same boundaries. (RCW 84.09.030; WAC 458-12-140). In order to certify, the county assessor sends a letter certifying boundaries, with copy of voter-approved ballot resolution, to the Department of Revenue, Property Tax Division. Commissioners Appoint the Library Board Members It is the responsibility of the county commissioners to appoint members to a library board, whether it is a countywide or partial-county library district. The commissioners should appoint board members to one, two, three, four, and five-year terms respectively. Each county may have its own process for selecting library board members; however, supporters of the library may assist them, if appropriate. Interested library supporters can volunteer to work with county officials to develop a process to select library trustees. Members of the library district or partial-county library district planning committee may wish to submit names and resumes to assist the county commissioners in selecting knowledgeable library board members. Meet as Library Board Once members of a new library district or partial-county library district board are appointed, they should meet as soon as possible to: Write and adopt bylaws for the work of the library board. Elect officers. Set up a regular schedule for board meetings. Read and review duties and responsibilities set out in this Public Library Trustee Reference Manual, published by Washington State Library. Begin determining how to fund services for the first year and developing a preliminary budget. Begin planning for library services, including hiring of the library director.
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LIBRARY DISTRICT ESTABLISHMENT AND CITY ANNEXATION 4.2
Determine Interim Funding Sources As a part of its budget planning, the library board must decide how to cover the expenses of the library district for the period between the time the election is certified and the first property taxes are received. New districts may choose to use a combination of the options listed below in order to best provide for the start-up of the library. Potential options include: Obtaining a line of credit from a bank. Raising funds from the local community. Requesting federal funds from the Washington State Library by writing a letter to the chair of the Washington State Library Commission asking for the appropriate mechanism for obtaining assistance. Delaying significant cost-incurring activities until funds are available. Obtaining funds from a local or regional foundation or other philanthropic organization. Select an Approach to Providing Library Service Depending on the size of the district, the geographic location, and whether it is a countywide district or partial-county district, several options are available for providing library service. They include: Contracting with an existing local city library for library service. Contracting with another district library for library service. Establishing library service from the ground up. Determine Methods to Plan Library Service for the District If the decision is to set up library service from the ground floor, additional decisions must be made. Once funding sources are known, the library board should investigate the variety of methods to begin planning for new services and select the one which best fits their local situation. Based on funds available, the needs of the area, and the availability of personnel, alternatives for assistance in developing services could include: Hiring a new library director to help the board plan and set up the services. Contracting with a local or regional librarian/library director to assist part-time in the initial planning. Hiring an independent library consultant or several different consultants, depending on their subject specialties, to assist in the initial planning. Asking a local planner or library board member to assist in the initial planning Process New districts will probably want to use a combination of the above options to gather the most creative, cost-effective and locally appropriate approach to planning for library services.
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LIBRARY DISTRICT ESTABLISHMENT AND CITY ANNEXATION 4.3
Preliminary Plan for Library Services The library board should begin planning and policy development for the new library district on its own or with the assistance of the new library director, a consultant, or interim staff. Potential activities that the library board may take in preparation for setting up library services include: Holding public meetings/forums to gather input from the public on what services they value most and expect from the library, where those services should be located, and how they wish to be kept informed on the development of services. Investigating types of library services and costs. Investigating potential partnerships with other libraries. Determining best methods to reach residents in convenient areas such as branches, outlets, bookmobiles, deposit collections, books by mail, and/or other. Prepare a Preliminary Budget The library board prepares a preliminary budget. It should check with the assessor to get the most up-to-date information on assessed valuation so that it can estimate property tax revenue. Library districts are required to hold public hearings on revenue sources and proposed property tax levies. (RCW 84-55.120) These usually are held in November (before November 15) in order to have access to the most up-to-date information from the assessor. While the library board does not need to have formally adopted a preliminary budget in order to adopt a property tax levy rate, developing a preliminary draft of the budget can assist the board in setting a rate which will insure the district has sufficient funds to provide effective library service. The budget should include funds for salaries and benefits, contracts for services, facilities maintenance, materials collection, computer technology, utilities and telecommunication costs, and electronic database services. For further information on district budgeting, see Chapter 17 of this Reference Manual. Set a Tax Levy Rate The library board must adopt a property tax levy rate and submit it to the county legislative body by November 15 (RCW 84.52.020) of the year in which the new district is allowed to make its first levy. The board must state the amount of the levy, which will be the chosen tax rate for the initial levy. The maximum rate that the board may levy is 50 cents per thousand dollars assessed valuation. At the time the levy rate is adopted, the district will not know its final assessed valuation because necessary information from the state is not provided until December. For this reason, most assessors will allow taxing districts to request a certain levy amount in their resolution and add the phrase, "or the maximum allowed by law."
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LIBRARY DISTRICT ESTABLISHMENT AND CITY ANNEXATION 4.4
Most new districts select to set the initial rate at or very close to the maximum amount allowed by law. If the board chooses a lower rate, it should have carefully analyzed the amount of money needed to provide effective library services to its residents. When the tax rate is set too low initially, the new district may not be able to meet the needs and expectations of the voters of the new district nor can it expand to meet the future needs of new residents. Once the rate is set, it cannot be raised without a vote of people. Adopt an Official Budget The library district board of trustees adopts the official budget at a public meeting, usually at its regular December meeting. Timing of Receipt of Property Taxes Money derived from the property tax will start to become available to the library district in May of the year following it initial property tax levy. This could be many months after the district was formed. As mentioned above, the boundaries of the district, for the purposes of levying taxes, are set on June 1, if the district has boundaries that are identical to another taxing district. Otherwise, boundaries are set on March 1. If a district was established by a vote in November of Year 1, for example, it cannot levy property taxes until November of Year 2 for collection in Year 3. At least one-half of the property tax is due from taxpayers on April 30 and the remainder is due on October 31. Thus, the district will receive the bulk of its property tax distributions in May and June and November and December. The county treasurer must, on or before the 10th of the month, transfer to all taxing districts their respective shares of taxes collected the previous month. (RCW 84.56.020). Some counties transfer property taxes daily rather than pay interest to the districts for the time the revenues are held prior to distribution. In these counties, the districts receive most of their revenues in May and November. RESOURCES A variety of information and resources are available to assist the board in these tasks. It is wise to contact local sources first since they are most pertinent to the library’s area. If these sources are unavailable or unfamiliar with the issues follow up with the other sources listed below. County prosecuting attorney County assessor County treasurer Library director and/or library trustees of neighboring libraries Independent library consultants (Consider contacting neighboring libraries and/or Washington State Library for names of potential consultants) State agencies and statewide organizations Washington State Library P.O. Box 42460 Olympia, WA 98504-2460 360-753-5592 1-800-562-6090 http://www.statelib.wa.gov
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LIBRARY DISTRICT ESTABLISHMENT AND CITY ANNEXATION 4.5
Washington State Department of Revenue Property Tax Division PO. Box 47471 Olympia, WA 98504-1331 360-570-5860 Washington State Association of Counties 206 10th Avenue SE Olympia, WA 98501-1331 360-753-1886 http://www.wacounties.org/wsac/ Association of Washington Cities 1076 Franklin Street SE Olympia, WA 98501-1346 360-753-4137 http://www.awcnet.org/ CITY ANNEXATION TO A LIBRARY DISTRICT Information Prepared for Use of the Sno-Isle Regional Library System Contributed by: Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory, Deputy Director Sno-Isle Regional Library System With additional information contributed by the Municipal Research Services Center Purpose Annexation of a city into a library district removes the obligation of a contracting city to pay for library service from its general operating fund, and it initiates a process which allows the library district to levy taxes within the boundaries of a city at the same rate and on the same basis that the library tax is levied in surrounding unincorporated areas. The taxpayers within the city assume the responsibility for paying directly for library services as if they lived in the unincorporated area. Impact on City/Town Taxes Library annexation legislation allows a city to increase its maximum property tax levy rate from $3.375 to $3.60 per $1,000, less the levy rate for the library district. If a library district’s rate were set at $0.50 per $1,000, the maximum rate a city could levy would be $3.10 ($3.375 to $3.60 - $.50=$3.10). A city that is annexed to a library district and a fire district will have its maximum levy rate reduced by both of the districts’ levy rates. What happens to the city's actual levy rate after annexation depends on what its rate is at the time of annexation, what the library district rate is, and city council policy? If the library tax rate is $0.50 per thousand dollars assessed valuation and if the city's rate is $3.10 or higher, the city rate will fall after annexation. For example, take a city whose rate before annexation was $3.25 per thousand dollars assessed valuation. It would have to lower its rate to $3.10 if it annexed to the library district.
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LIBRARY DISTRICT ESTABLISHMENT AND CITY ANNEXATION 4.6
The assessment for library service would be levied separately by the library district, therefore relieving the city of having to pay the library fee out of its general operating fund. The sum of the city and library district rates would be $3.60 ($3.10 + 0.50) after annexation. The city council could, if it chose, reduce its levy to $2.75 so that the sum of the two levies would be $3.25, the same as it was before the annexation. If the city's rate is $3.10 or less before the annexation, it would not have to lower its rate. Cost to the Taxpayer Sno-Isle Regional Library District’s levy rate in 1999 is $.50 per $1,000 assessed property valuation. Residents of annexed cities and the unincorporated areas of the county with property valued at $100,000 will pay $50 in taxes to the Library District. Under state law the maximum allowable levy rate for library districts is $.50 per $1,000.
Enabling Statute Revised Code of Washington 27.12.360 – 27.12.395 Annexation Procedure A city council submits a proposed ordinance stating its intent to join the library district and finding that the public interest would be served thereby to its local city library board for review and recommendation. If no local library board exists, the State Librarian is to be notified of the proposed ordinance. The council adopts the proposed ordinance. he ordinance is submitted to the Sno-Isle Regional Library Board of Trustees for its concurrence in the annexation. The Library District Board approves or disapproves the city’s request. The city and the Library District negotiate and approve a Library Annexation Agreement. The city’s request, if approved, is submitted to the county council or commission asking that a special election be held within the city on a date as provided for in RCW 29.13.010, but not less than 45 days before the election is scheduled. Cities assume all costs related to an annexation election. A simple majority of the persons voting on the proposition determines the outcome of the election. The annexation may be reversed by a city council-initiated special election any time three years or more after the annexation. Deadlines for Considering Annexation Requests The Sno-Isle Regional Library Board meets monthly on the fourth Monday. To allow adequate time for Board action and action of the county council or commission, an annexation request must be considered by the District’s Board no later than a meeting held at least one month before the election filing deadline, which is 45 days before the election date. Filing for future elections are available from the county Elections Office. A request for Board action on an annexation request should be made no later than one week prior to the scheduled Board meeting.
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LIBRARY DISTRICT ESTABLISHMENT AND CITY ANNEXATION 4.7
The Board of Trustees may consider holding a special meeting to act on an annexation request, if necessary. Timing of Annexation and Levy of Taxes for Library District The new boundaries of the library district must be set by June 1 in order for it to levy taxes in November of that year for collection in the following year. (RCW 84.09.030(3). The first half of the year's property taxes are due April 30 and the county treasurer will begin sending the district taxes collected in the city. This means that even if the city annexes to the library district in May (the latest possible time to do so and meet the June 1 deadline), it will still be almost 12 months before the district receives any tax revenue from the city's properties. During this period, however, the city's citizens will be able to use the library since they are part of the district from the time when the election is certified. Since this situation is predictable, a library district may require the city to sign an interlocal agreement to pay for library services during this period. Note that if the annexation takes place after June 1, there will be an even longer period between the time the city becomes part of the district and the district receives any property taxes. If, for example, the annexation election is held in November of Year 1, the district may not levy taxes in the city until November of Year 2, with the first collections coming in May of Year 3.
Library Annexation Agreements The Agreement is a brief document that details the city's and the Library District's obligations in the event that the annexation election is successful. The following terms of such an agreement are recommended. The Library District assumes the responsibility for the interior custodial maintenance and utilities expenses of libraries in cities that are annexed. The city continues to be responsible for other maintenance and repair of the building as well as insurance. The city keeps its voice in library operations through the city-appointed library board and its management of the library building.
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EXHIBIT E: FIFE ANNEXATION AGREEMENT
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EXHIBIT F: 2011 TRUSTEE VACANCY CALENDAR
Consultant’s note: provided for illustrative purposes, courtesy of Neel Parikh, Pierce County Library System
Date April 13 Activity Board Meeting Discuss process Select two members to serve on Interview Committee April 14 April 25 April 27 and May 1 Letter sent to County Executive reviewing process Application (PDF fill in) on Website with links to materials Ad appears in Herald, Dispatch, Gateway, Dispatch, BL Courier Herald, Milton/Edgewood Signal, Fife Free Press and business/south sound section of The News Tribune. Ads run twice for weeklies. Mary Cassie Responsibility Neel
April 25 April 25
News release issued, Tweets posted, Article sent to Chambers of Commerce Application packet distributed to branches Application form Supporting information (agenda log, responsibilities, system overview, annual report
Mary Neel & Storm
April 25 April 25
Letters sent announcing vacancy (selected list) Trustee interview committee finalized 2 BOT Members: Pierce County representative Foundation member Library customer Interview date set
Neel & Storm Neel
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Activity Discuss skills needed for filling position Criteria for selection finalized and reviewed Review criteria for screening Review interview questions
April 25 – May 26 May 27 May 31
Applications received; acknowledgement letters sent to all applicants, informing them of interview date Applications due Applications mailed to Interview Panel Interview committee screens applicants and selects 5 to 7 prospective trustees to interview
Neel & Storm
Storm Interview Com. Interview Com. Storm Interview Com.
Names of candidates selected for interview due to Director
June 8 June 13
Candidates notified and scheduled for interviews Interviews are held and a candidate selected Appointment request sent to Pierce County Executive
County Council committee reviews appointments
County Council County Council County Council
Resolution for submittal to full council prepared
County council adopts resolution
BOT Meeting: New member’s first Board meeting
*Date dependent on Pierce County Council Actions
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