OGDEN -- When Weber County voters passed the $45 million library bond in June, they were given a detailed description of how the money would be spent for each planned addition and alteration to the libraries that applied. However, some of those plans might be scaled back if any of the first plans scheduled to go forward exceed the budget originally set for them.
"I do not think that we need to spend quite a bit less than the bond specified. We need to make sure we are going to have the funds to deliver the product and resources that all of the libraries need, and since the Ogden and North Ogden branches have a lot of unknowns as far as what's needed, I want to make sure we have the budget taken care of," Commissioner Matthew Bell said.
The final budget of $45 million was actually reached after several architects, engineers and construction companies came up with an estimate of $55 million initially for the county, but lowered it after an assessment was made for the purpose of reducing costs. Bell does not feel that the improvements can be made without having to use every penny of the allocated money.
"They need to provide the services that the public expects from them, and many of them have become more like meeting places, and I do not want us to run out of money by the time they get to working on the Main Branch," Bell said.
Frequent users of the libraries were likely among the Weber residents who chose to vote in favor of the bond, and seeing possible changes or scaling back might mean disappointing some of them. One, Eric Zschiesche, an artist and frequent Main Library visitor, can see both sides of the issue.
"I would prefer not to have any cutbacks to what I voted on originally. That said, budget constraints and concerns are part of the overall economic landscape of every community. I feel that libraries are a worthwhile investment, and I would like to see the work done to keep this one viable," Zschiesche said.
Library Director Lynnda Wangsgard thinks that keeping a close watch on the plans is helping her and all concerned keep track of how to prepare for possible changes in the budget's structure. The Roy branch is being built before the Main Library modifications, which could affect how much additional money might be available for the Main Library.
"As we go through planning headquarters, we're figuring out where we can save. If we find some big issues in the Main Library, we may have to do some fundraising, but we will not be exceeding the bond money in any way. We already have started some contingency money, which is $5 million, and we've cut all the projects back a little to have that. The Main needs to have more investigative work done, rather than just estimates, before we will know if there will be additional costs we did not anticipate when we initially had architects and engineers come in to assess the building," Wangsgard said.
Legally, the costs for all the improvements need to stay within the $45 million allocated for the bond if they only need to spend that much, but the county is permitted to earn more via fundraising if need be.
The investigative work includes checking to see if there might be higher costs for increased asbestos damage and the natural difficulties with a building in need of repairs as a result of aging.
If there are adjustments to the budget, they will be made after both the headquarters in Roy and the Main Library have undergone complete investigations, before both beginning construction.