City awards library bid despite a shortfall in the projected budget

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 By Correne Martin

It’s not ideal to “chase the inflation tail,” according to Architectural Design Consultants, the firm tasked with assisting in planning the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library addition and renovation project. Despite the cost of the work reaching $3.578 million—which is $600,000 more than initially anticipated—the firm recommends construction move forward. Thus, the common council voted Tuesday night to award the contract to Portzen Construction, of Dubuque, for a base bid of $3,520,000. Plus, there is an add bid value of $58,000, to include an adult reading room addition.

“We feel strongly that delaying the project will be highly detrimental to the overall project, resulting in need for greater funds to cover less building value,” David Cameron, of Architectural Design Consultants, said in a bid summary letter to Linda Munson, library board president.

The letter also clarified why the project costs have come in over the original projected budget.

In addition to inflation, the capital fundraising campaign had a beginning goal of $1.5 million; however, the board has raised just $1 million in pledges, cash, in-kind donations and grants. About $600,000 of that is available in cash and the remaining pledges should be paid over the next five years.

In December 2016, the project had an estimated budget of $3 million, according to Brian Della, of PFM Financial Advisors, a Milwaukee consulting company leading the city through the bonding process.

According to a resolution awarding bids and declaring commitment to borrow funds, the council, in January 2017, borrowed $2 million for the library renovation, expansion, new library equipment and materials. Adding the $1 million in donations, that leaves a shortfall in the budget.

To make up the rest of the project cost, the council committed to borrowing up to $1.6 million to close the gap in financing and to ensure project cash flow. This would be done with the expectation that a significant chunk of this borrowing would be retired quickly through donations.

The library board is also looking to renew its efforts to pursue additional creative fundraising once construction starts and continue throughout. The hope is that, once the public sees real action taking place, there will be a burst of additional donations.

The city maintains that a strong public library is important for a strong, vibrant, educated community. It’s declared in a council-endorsed resolution that a public library “nurtures lifelong learning opportunities, makes available employment and training resources, provides a safe and positive environment for children ... and provides programs and resources for families.” The city also believes a library is an amenity that can bring people to the downtown and support the city’s economic development efforts.

The city, council and library board have found through research that the library is about half the size necessary for its holdings and usage and, in turn, its holdings are 25 percent less than required for its service area and population.

2-way traffic now for part of West Perry Street
The common council approved an ordinance changing the municipal traffic code for West Perry Street, between North Beaumont Road and North Prairie Street, returning this portion to two-way vehicular traffic in both directions.

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