Library Director Susan White told the board that the Georgia Legislature approved $2 million in funding during its 2009 legislative session, but the funding must be spent by November or it will be lost.
But with construction on the 18,000-square-foot facility in Lathemtown still yet to begin, White said the money could soon be lost. The construction project has already gone out for bid, she said.
White told the board that with such state funds, “They give you a certain length of time for this money to be spent.”
The $2 million dollars would only cover part of the construction cost for the new facility, County Manager Jerry Cooper said Thursday.
Cherokee County’s portion would be around $3.6 million, he said, which would be paid out of the 1 percent Special Option Local Sales Tax.
With the budget for construction sitting at $5.6 million, White said it is crucial to keep the $2 million available for the project.
Cherokee County has purchased a piece of property on Highway 20 for the facility, the director said.
But, “at the request of the county,” she said. “Construction of this library was delayed to the last possible date, which is May 2013, in order for (the funds) to be expended by November 2013.”
The Cherokee County library board met last week to discuss the issue.
“The way the board sees it and the way I see it,” White told the commission. “There are two choices left: You either have to let construction begin in May ... or the entire project needs to be canceled.”
White acknowledged to the commissioners that there was concern about operational costs for the library, which would be covered by Cherokee County.
“I’ve been very aware of that from the very beginning,” she said.
White said annual operating costs for the new library have been estimated to be around $300,000.
But she said that number is an estimate, since some day-to-day costs can’t be calculated until the facility is up and running.
“We just had to take one of libraries that we currently have that’s about the same size and estimate from that,” White said. “It could be less, but I don’t know that.”
The new Lathemtown library would have 10 employees, the director said, five full-time and five part-time.
Commissioner Harry Johnston expressed concern about where or how the county would get the money for its portion of the construction and the long-term operating costs of the facility.
“My intuitive sense is that we can manage (the construction contribution) and operating would be the hard part,” Johnston said, for the remainder of this fiscal year.
White reiterated that she was aware that operating cost was an issue.
“We’re just at the point where we need to know whether to sign the contract with the construction company that won the bid,” she said.
The board agreed to put the item on the agenda for their May 7 meeting for consideration.
During its meeting Tuesday, the board of commissioners also:
• Approved awarding an agreement with LifeQuest Services for ambulance transport billing services for Cherokee County, for a maximum fee of 6.5 percent of total net collections a month. LifeQuest’s proposal to the county received the highest rating of 13 submitted, Cooper said;
• Unanimously approved the transfer of more than $115,000 to the county drug accountability court from the DATE fund. Cooper said they hope to hire a part-time assistant district attorney to serve the court;
• Voted unanimously to accept a donation of $10,000 to the county animal shelter for the care of cats and dogs;
• Unanimously approved the installation of several speed humps on Dock Lathem Trail, per the request of a petition which 84 percent of residents there signed; and
• Unanimously accepted a purchase price bid of $75,000 from a buyer for property at 824 Santa Fe Trail in Woodstock.