King County Libraries opts for ‘Fresh Start for All,’ removes current late fees
The King County Library System (KCLS) wiped all late fees last week with a new ‘Fresh Start for All’ program after receiving approval from the Board of Trustees on April 27.
This one-time waiver gives library users a clean slate on their accounts and enables access to all KCLS materials, despite KCLS not charging library users for late fees since March 2020 when the pandemic struck.
The library announced it will start fining patrons again on Sept. 15.
Lost fees, however, can not be wiped with Fresh Start for All, due to state law. If library materials are more than 30 days overdue, they are considered lost. Lost fees will begin processing again on May 4. KCLS will mail billing notices to accounts with over $25 in fees. Patrons will have until September 15 to return items or pay fees before accounts are blocked.
Late fines account for less than 1% of the library’s budget, with a county levy occupying 97% of the budget. A $208,000 grant from the King County Library System Foundation will help cover the expected $468,000 in late fees the library will lose with this program.
KLCS also had to let go of 63 employees over the last four years to make their rapidly thinning $135 million budget stretch over its 50 locations, according to the library system’s 2022 preliminary budget document.
One of the locations, The Kent Panther Lake Library, remains closed indefinitely after a car crashed into the building on May 7, causing structural damage.