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Lakewood City Council discusses de-annexation from the library system

Lakewood’s de-annexation from the Pierce County Library System is moving onto the agenda. This would be the process by which Lakewood stops contributing it tax dollars to the Library System, and becomes responsible for its own libraries. However, we mustn’t get too excited – right now council members are lukewarm about the idea. 

At the Council’s study session on Monday, July 25 2022, the issue of de-annexation was raised by the City Manager, John Caulfield. He wanted to know what action the City should take.

Council member Anderson said he would like good “back of the envelope” numbers before making a decision, though he suspected that he it would be too expensive. Indeed, he indicted that he would not be supporting de-annexation:

I would like to make an informed decision when I vote no…

This raises the issue of what Donald Anderson will be voting against. The most likely route to de-annexation would be the City voting for a resolution, which would be put to the people of Lakewood at a general election (RCW 27.12.380).

So is Donald Anderson saying that he doesn’t want to give voters the choice? Or is he referring to the alternative route to de-annexation (RCW 27.12.355), where there is no popular vote, and both the City Council and the library system’s trustees agree to an amicable divorce? Or am I over-interpreting his use of the word “when”?

However, I don’t want to be too critical of Donald Anderson. He is clearly unhappy with the way Pierce County Library System has been treating the City of Lakewood. And because of his influence on the Council, he is in a position to make de-annexation happen.

Council Member Michael Brandstetter seemed to be supportive of Donald Anderson’s view, as was Paul Bocchi.

Linda Farmer appeared unsympathetic to de-annexation, saying

I don’t know that we [the City] want to be in the library business…

Of course there are many ways of running a City’s libraries, and one needs to look at how other cites run their libraries. There could be a Lakewood Library System, acting as a municipal body. There could also be the Puyallup model, where Puyallup Public Library is run by a board, appointed by the City Manager.

In spite of council members’ doubts, the Council is going to get more information about the viability of de-annexation, and they are not dismissing the idea out of hand.

That’s progress.

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