Commissioners Want to Know Why Library Costs Soar

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The county's original plans called for a new library at the current marina location. The original estimated cost was $7 million.

When commissioners decided to move the library to the newly-acquired 11th Street shopping center property, JRA Architects said that could save more than $1 million because the one-story project would not need pilings or elevators, and somewhere along the way the project gained a 30,000-foot addition.

New estimates put the facility at $10 million, $3 million more than the first proposal, so you can imagine the surprise of some commissioners.

Some of the board members say they feel like they've been kept out of the loop.

George Gainer, Bay County Commissioner, said, "As far as I know we've agreed to spend $8 million on a library. We saved a million on that. Picked up $3.5 million from the state, I thought we were traveling along that path. I think the rest of the board did too. I'd like to see us get back on that path."

Gainer says the extra cost is due to the size of the library. The state recommended a 60,000 square foot facility.

Gainer says he's not aware of the addition, but county manager Ed Smith, and Girvin say they remember the commission voting on the library addition.

Girvin also says the price could be fluctuating because of changing construction costs.

Jerry Girvin said, "We don't know 10-mil is gonna be the price. Right now all we have is conceptual drawling, artist renderings. We don't have the engineering or architectural designs. We don't know exactly what it will cost."

Girvin says he knew the cost might go up back in January. He also points out state grant money to reduce the cost, as well and the million savings on the change of location.

"We are still looking at basically $7 million. When you compare it that library is a building everyone can use. You don't have to be a convicted felon. We're about to spend an ungodly amount on a jail, which makes library costs pale."

"If it's a $7 million expenditure and it's not gonna do the job, then we'll consider a bigger building and more money."

Commissioners say they're not making any rash decisions until they hear from the architects. JRA Architects refused to comment to us Wednesday. They're scheduled to appear before the commission during a regularly scheduled commission meeting in August.