Tuesday, 05 April 2005
The Portsmouth City Council approved taking $1MM from the city’s fund balance to pay for increased library costs. They have now approved $8.3MM for the library, which at one time was to cost taxpayers $4MM. Is this finally the end to expanding costs for the library? How can we prevent similar overruns on future city projects?
At the April 4th City Council meeting, Councilors voted 6-2 to approve taking $1MM from the city’s fund balance to pay for higher library costs. Councilors St. Laurent and Whitehouse voted against. Councilor Raynolds was absent.
The Council has now approved $8.3MM in funding for the library: the $7MM initial bond, $1MM from the fund balance and $300K in furnishings in the capital improvement plan, which was also passed at the council meeting.
When the library was bonded for $7MM, taxpayers were to fund $4MM, with $3MM coming from private donations. The donation goal has been ratcheted down to $500K and it looks increasingly likely contributions will be used for ‘extras’ rather than to abate taxpayer costs.
The Association opposes the doubling of the taxpayer’s liability for the library to $8.3MM from $4MM. Just as every family in town adjusts their desires to fit their budgets, the APT requested the Council evaluate ways to reduce costs and find new revenue sources to protect taxpayers from cost overruns.
Neil Novello, Acting President, testified on behalf of the Association at the public hearing. The APT delivered a letter to each City Councilor which states our position in more detail. This letter also suggests accountability and some process improvements, as our Councilors MUST step up to prevent such agregious cost overruns for future projects.