Mr. Bohenko Can Not Spin Gold Out of Straw

At the time $7MM was bonded for the library it was to cost taxpayers $4MM, with $3MM to be raised through private contributions. Recent developments indicate we are currently looking at a taxpayer funded cost of $7,242,404, assuming an additional $1MM is privately donated.

Today Portsmouth officials released a revision in costs for the library, moving the initial $7 million price tag up to $7,942,404. The new figure is the guaranteed maximum price for the entire construction project, submitted by North Branch Construction. City Manager Bohenko says this increase will have no effect on taxpayers.

Do our public officials really believe we are foolish enough to think Mr. Bohenko has created new or tax-free funding? All he is doing is taking $942,404 from the city’s fund balance to pay for the overage, which will be replenished with money from the sale of the existing library building on Islington Street.

These proceeds from the sale of the existing library are not new money; in any sale scenario they would have gone to the town. Using this money to pay for the overages on the library just means it can’t be used for something else, and will ultimately cost taxpayers an extra $942,404 in higher taxes. In addition, by dropping the fundraising goal for the library from $3MM to $1MM, as was mentioned by the Mayor in an interview last Friday, officials have added $2MM to the taxpayer’s expected costs for the library. Those who look carefully will also note the proposed capital improvement plan includes another new cost, $300K in furnishings and equipment for the library.

Adding all of these up, the library is now costing citizens $3,242,404 more than was promised at the time the library was bonded. Instead of costing taxpayers $4MM, we are currently looking at a taxpayer funded cost of $7,242,404. That is assuming city officials are successful in raising $1MM in private contributions and do not continue to sneak further costs into the equation.

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