September 9, 2021 This is NOT a faith column.
According to a detail report on August 23, 2021 for the Fund: 88 – Library Building Construction Project the Town of Farmville spent:
$4,765,828 building construction/demolition
$533,046 design and construction management
$12,680 survey and testing
$672 advertisement fees
for a total of $5,314,497 (which does not include furnishings or technology).
In January 2018 the estimate to demolish the former library and build a new one was $4.45 million. The advocates of this project had a goal to raise at least $2.25 million from grants, fundraisers, and donations. The hope was for the Town of Farmville to have to pay no more than $2.25 million.
As of August 23, 2021, approximately $768,902 was raised through donations and fundraisers. An additional amount, close to $200,000, was raised by selling the Farmville Economic Development Council’s small business incubator. This total of $968,902 was recorded as “private contributions” for the new library.
The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously in June 2019 to take out a loan of $5 million, more than twice the originally proposed $2.25 million. The interest of this loan will be $1.176 million, so the Town of Farmville will pay $6.176 million over the course of 15 years. Payments will be made annually, each July.
The Board also voted unanimously in March 2020 to pay $340,000 to develop a privately-owned parking lot and area plus pay for lighting at the former train depot in exchange for 14 months of rent. Our commissioners chose the $340,000 option instead of the $298,000 option, agreeing to pay the equivalent of $24,000 per month for the temporary library space. (Several requests for information from Town Hall have shown no donations to bring down the $340,000 cost to the town.)
It is difficult to find figures for renting commercial real estate in Farmville. What would you suppose would have been a reasonable price to pay for a suitable temporary library location? Would $8,000 per month have been reasonable? $6,000 per month? Let’s go a little higher and say that $10,000 per month for a temporary library space would have been the going rate. In that case, our commissioners voted to spend close to $200,000 more than was necessary in exchange for 14 months of rent. (Please let me know if you believe voting to spend $24,000 per month for rent was a good use of taxpayer money. I would welcome your input.)
In August 2020 a presentation was made for a $350,000 USDA Communities Facilities Grant from the State of NC to pay for equipment to furnish Farmville’s new library and provide technology, with the agreement that the Town of Farmville would fund the additional $119,519. The “furnishings and technology” total is listed as $466,319 in the August 2021 detail report. (The detailed general ledgers for the new library project are not yet available.)
The report shows $100,783 left in the library fund balance, but that $375,930 must be paid back to the General Fund. How will we pay back this amount to the General Fund?
If we consider the $5,314,497 for demo/building plus $466,319 for furnishings and technology, $200,000 above what we should have paid for the temporary library space and $1,176,000 for interest alongside the $1,318,902 brought in from the USDA furnishings/technology grant, the sale of the small business incubator and personal contributions, we are left with $5,837,914 to be paid by the Town of Farmville, unless more donations come in. How much more will it cost for utilities and cleaning of this larger facility? How much more will the town spend for additional library staff?Where will we get this money? How will we pay for the much-needed new fire station in the face of this kind of debt?
There is no doubt that spending over $6 million for a library in a town of 4,700 people results in a large, modern structure and interior. The question is not whether people will use or enjoy the facilities, but how the Town of Farmville will pay for all of this.