BELLOWS FALLS -- The Rockingham Free Public Library Trustees approved a level-funded FY2015 budget on Friday and will present it at a Rockingham Selectboard meeting tonight in hopes of getting the board's support.
The library's board of trustees does not require budget approval from the Selectboard, but Selectboard members can file a petition within a certain amount of time if they do not like what they see. If all goes smoothly, the library budget will be entered as a warrant article in the official town report, which will be made available to taxpayers before Town Meeting Day in March.
The trustees want to allocate $364,270 for the general operation of the newly renovated library, though Finance Committee Chairwoman Deborah Wright said that number comes from some "shooting in the dark," as the facility's new systems carry some uncertainty with them. She told the Reformer the library has not yet entered into contractual agreements, which will come with interest and warranties, for certain aspects of the renovation. The warranty on the elevator expires in August, she said.
Wright also said the library has new heat pumps and now runs on propane and electricity (and no longer fuel oil). A library staff member told the Reformer the facility is now valued differently following the complete renovation and there are differences in insurance costs.
According to the figures, the library's general fund of $320,800 would be raised by taxes. An additional $19,730 would come from investments, trusts and interest and $1,900 would be generated by grants. The budget also states there will be $10,800 from fundraising efforts, $2,800 from donations, $7,940 from fees and $300 by way of "total miscellaneous income."
The renovation of the library was expected to cost $2.9 million but wound up with a $3,042,245.15 price tag, leaving a deficit of $153,089.60. Most of the overrun was due to the project going past deadline due to problems with the general contractor initially hired for the job. The town terminated its contract with Baybutt Construction Corp. after the project was halted because subcontractors hired by Baybutt refused to continue their jobs, insisting they had not been paid for work already done. Engelberth Construction Co. was tapped to "button up" the facility and make it "reasonably weathertight" before being chosen as the new general contractor.
The library trustees voted controversially in May to close the facility to complete renovations and its services operated out of a space in The Square for a while. The library's main facility reopened to the public on Friday, Nov. 1.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.