OGDEN — With the last of the library upgrades funded by a $45 million 2013 bond issue nearly complete, Weber County leaders are looking to the future — how to maintain the new-and-improved structures.
Though no time frame has been set, they’re also potentially laying the groundwork for construction of a new library in northwestern Weber County, perhaps in Plain City or Farr West.
“That’s the last part of the county that doesn’t have one,” said Weber County Commissioner Scott Jenkins. What’s more, it’s where much of the new growth in the county is occurring.
With the future in mind, commissioners on Tuesday approved creation a capital projects fund for the Weber County Library System, aiming to create a pool of funds for larger capital projects in years to come. The $45 million voter-approved bond covered the cost of overhauls to the libraries in Ogden, North Ogden and Huntsville and reconstruction of the facility in Roy. Now, Commissioner Jim Harvey sees the new fund as insurance to keep them in tip-top shape as their sparkle fades.
Things like new roofs, parking lot upgrades and heating-system replacements — when the time comes — can be pricey. “Those are huge costs you just need to budget for,” Harvey said.
Notably, Jenkins also hopes the fund can be used to generate the money needed, perhaps $20 million, to build a new library. It may be years away, he said, but “we need to start the process of putting a little money away.”
The library system currently has a surplus of $8 million, and a portion of that will likely be put into the new capital fund. Harvey envisions tapping $3 million of the total, while Jenkins would like to move $5 million to $7 million to the new fund. Money for the fund could also come from donations or revenue the library system is able to save in years to come.
Either way, there’s no timeline to build a new library, which would be the county’s sixth, nor are there specific plans for the fund at this early stage. “It really depends on priorities in the county,” said Lynnda Wangsgard, director of the library system.
Nonetheless, Wangsgard noted the lead-up to the 2013 ballot initiative on whether to issue the $45 million in bonds. The county didn’t have sufficient resources to cover the significant cost of improvements to library facilities, thus the bond proposal. Creation of the new fund is meant to avoid that sort of crunch.
The $45 million bond helped build a new Southwest Branch facility in Roy and covered the cost of significant upgrades to the Main Library in Ogden and the North Branch in North Ogden, completed in 2018. The bond is also funding improvements to the Ogden Valley Branch in Huntsville, which are nearly complete. The Pleasant Valley Branch in Washington Terrace, the newest library in the system, wasn’t the focus of any bond projects.