Saturday, November 13, 2010

Library Expansion: Heading Into Monday

The proposal on Monday's agenda is for a $2,000,000.00 request submitted at the Robertson County Budget Committee Meeting.

Due to several of the questions posed, and the overall sentiment of Commissioners of the Budget Committee – in my humble opinion, it was not a vote of confidence as much as it was allowing the full body to be involved with the decision whether to fund the expansion project.

In this post, I hope to provide you what I have learned "Heading Into Monday."

City of Springfield

It has been an understanding that the City of Springfield would match what the County Commission allocated.

Recent discussion has indicated otherwise.

It would look as though the City of Springfield may not be in a position to contribute an additional $1,000,000.00 so that their total contribution reaches $2,000,000.00.

It has been understood that the City of Springfield ("City") would match the effort of the County Commission ("CC") and the Gorham-McBane Public Library ("GMPL").

It would appear that the City is holding firm with the initial commitment of only $1,000,000.00.

Robertson County

There is simply no cash on hand for this project. This was known well before the Budget Committee Meeting. And, with what was reported/discussed by the Financial Advisor at the CC Budget Committee Meeting, Robertson County MUST address one, if not more, of the following options (Much of this discussion will be reserved for a future post, but here is a summary):
  • cuts to the overall budget;
  • a re-financing / re-structuring of the current debt;
  • a sizable property tax increase.
Robertson County is deficit spending.

Not just changes, drastic changes will be addressed in moving forward.

For the project to move forward as it is proposed right now, Robertson County would be forced to borrow $2,000,000.00.

What is NOT Known:

Here are the questions that need answers before a vote on Monday, November 15, 2010.

These questions are many of the questions commissioners have asked, and my own constituents have asked over the last several weeks. The "answers" in italics are the partial answers I have heard thus far.
  • What are the operating costs once this project is completed? The presentation at the Budget Committee set out that there would be a 20-30% increase. I have heard estimates of it even tripling.
  • What entity is going to pay for the operating costs?
  • Is there a third option?
  • Who actually uses the Library? There is a healthy balance between County and City and figures reflecting this will be provided on November 15, 2010.
  • What if the full $6,000,000.00 is not there?

What is going to happen?

More importantly, what should happen?

As it stands, the City's apparent twist definitely throws that many more variables and questions into the discussion.

Further, with the posture of the presentation of this project: the proposition of it being "either/or" - there is not much room as it stands for compromise, or my "third-way." This "third-way" was what I alluded to in my prior post. I am afraid that the "either/or" has caused much of the reservation in fellow commissioners for any momentum moving forward.


We cannot ignore our economic environment.

We cannot ignore our financial outlook.

Many, if not all, of the constituents that I have spoken with have started their statement with one of the following phrases: "Jonathan, we have GOT TO do this project, BUT…
  • ….we do not need more debt."
  • ….if the money is not there, then we can't."
  • ….we cacan't afford it right now."
  • ….the timing is just not right."
I agree.

Without question, this is a worthy endeavor. It is an endeavor that is long, long overdue; BUT, we cannot ignore the financial prognosis of Robertson County.

So, we must forge a way to make this work.

I know this because my family uses the GMPL on a weekly basis. Your family uses the GMPL on a weekly basis.

BUT, this "way" is going to be different than that which is currently proposed.


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