MURRAY – The Calloway County Public Library Board of Trustees voted this week to form a financial committee to plan for the institution’s future.
The discussion of a financial committee began with CCPL Director Mignon Pittman updating the board on the 2021 Kentucky General Assembly and several pieces of proposed legislation that could affect libraries. She said Senate Bill 149, sponsored by Sen. John Schickel (R-Union), would allow judges-executives to appoint library board members with the approval of their fiscal courts. Although the statute leaves those appointments in the hands of those officials already, the law currently stipulates that each appointment is selected from two names submitted by the library board.
“Basically, it’s the same bill we’ve seen for years, and the (Kentucky Public Library Association) Advocacy Committee has said that they will keep an eye on it and let us know if there is any action we need to take,” Reed said.
Reed also mentioned House Bill 368, sponsored by Rep. Randy Bridges (R-Paducah), which relates to providing funding for the office of the property valuation administrator. Reed said the bill would require Special Purpose Governmental Entities (SPGE) such as libraries to pay a fee for the use of PVA evaluations.
“Those bills are just sitting there right now; they’re not moving,” Reed said. “So we’ll keep an eye on it. But our Kentucky libraries over the years have had several conversations with legislators about not just the board member process, but also budgets and so forth, so I want us to continue to be intentional about how our funding is being used.
“Part of that budget process includes the pension fund, and I’m not sure where that’s going to go right now. I’ve been keeping an eye on it, and I know there will be changes. We don’t know when and what they’ll be, but (Business Manager Wyneth Herrington) has been working on a budget and we also had a discussion with Chip Sutherland (at the Baird financial firm), so I would like for us to think about what we need to do to start that process.”
Trustee Levi Weatherford said a friend who works in finance suggested to him that the library should have a contingency fund in place for the building or other emergencies. Trustee Vonnie Hays Adams agreed, saying that now that the library was moving forward with an expansion, it was time to start thinking about its other financial priorities and obligations.
“We’ve always moved our funding into the building reserve fund, and we need to start looking beyond that now,” Adams said. “This is happening, we’re going to build the building, and now there are all these other factors that may play into our future. I feel comfortable and confident that we can pay for the building, but the pension situation is always hanging out there.”
Reed suggested the formation of a financial committee containing several community members, in addition to herself and Herrington, to report to the board on planning for the future. Weatherford said he thought there would be people in the community who were willing to donated directly to a library capital campaign, and he thought a financial committee could be in charge of that.
Weatherford moved to form the committee, and Trustee Debbie Bell seconded before the board unanimously approved it.
In another part of her director’s report, Reed said the library building had reopened to the public on Jan. 4 and continued with the same limited schedule it had been using and the same capacity limit. The staff currently works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the building is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. She said 15 patrons are allowed inside at one time, and they are each allowed to remain there for one hour.
Reed also gave an update on 706 Main St., which the library recently purchased from Southern Family Dental in connection with the expansion plans. She said the occupants had moved out and into their new location earlier than expected, and she said they would have until the end of March to move all their possessions. She said attorney Greg Taylor had also sent her the owner’s title insurance policy for the property.
5253 Design Group President Chris Cottongim, who is overseeing the library’s expansion project, also updated the board on the process for demolishing the building at 706 Main St. He said it would work just like the process the library went through to tear down the Olive Street house behind the library. That will include an environmental study, removing any potential hazardous materials, bidding the project out and finally, the demolition itself.
As the meeting was beginning, Board Chair Riley Ramsey asked Cottongim about when he might be able to get the board a revised cost estimate. The board had originally approved a smaller plan in February 2020, so the new $7.3 million cost estimate is based on material costs from around the time.
“Can we get a new estimate of materials and things in today’s dollars?” Ramsey asked. “I know you did it once, but we were kind of curious if there would be any discrepancies.”
“Once we get the design further along, where we know how many bar joists there are going to be and what kind of tonnage we’ll have with the HVAC – because you know we kind of started over last month – once we get that further along, we will do two more budgets for you, at least,” Cottongim said. “One is called the ‘design and development phase’ budget and one is a ‘construction document phase’ budget. We’ll look at those and we’ll do very specific takeoffs on square footage and cubic yards of concrete and square footage of carpet and how many metal studs and how many square feet of drywall and paint, (etc.). So we’ll have a very detailed, multi-phase cost estimate at both of those phases.”