Thursday, February 15, 2018

Library Project Update

Village officials and staff have enjoyed the recent opportunities to interact with citizens who have inquired directly for factual information on various Village issues and project. Those who have sought facts before forming their opinions have demonstrated truly responsible citizenship. 
In particular, the new Public Library project has received a lot of attention, especially now that the 15+ year process is coming to its ultimate climax with the potential awarding of a construction contract (to be considered in March). Hundreds and hundreds of hours engaging the community in this process has allowed for public input, constructive feedback, and plan tweaking. The way in which the public has been reached with this process is reflected in the successful public fund raising that has occurred to date. Thanks to over 340 donors, the capital campaign has exceeded its initial goal and stands at $1.517 million in committed private donations. Hats off to the Campaign Committee members, who have now established a new “reach” goal beyond the initial $1.5M.
For those who perhaps are still uncertain about some of the project details, below are answers to a few of the recent questions that we have been hearing:

Q: What is the project cost and how much is the Village’s public investment?
A: The estimated construction contract for a new library based on current plans is approximately $10M. When including all site and environmental clean-up the total cost is approximately $15M, which includes Village acquisition of the former Alloy site, building demolition, and contamination remediation. The Village Board has for several years established a threshold limit of $12M in Village public funding for the overall project, with the remaining funds to come from private fundraising, grants, and sale proceeds from the current library building.

Q: Is the final decision made on proceeding with the project?
A: Many decisions have been made regarding the project, based particularly on how complex the overall project has been. The cleanup of the blighted Alloy property has been a priority for the Village, but also an aspect of the project that has created many challenges. The Village was successful in obtaining a $500,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to assist with the clean-up, which was awarded in anticipation that the Library project would occur on the improved site. BUT, a defining decision-making moment will be when the Village receives the construction bids. The bids will be made available to interested contractors on February 15th, and are due back to the Village on March 8th. The Village Board would then be expected to consider awarding the contract in March or April (depending on the amount of time needed to thoroughly review the bids received and contractor qualifications). If no qualified bid is within range of the estimated cost ($10M), it is expected that the project scope would be revisited in order stay within the funding limitations (remember the $12M public funding limit).

Q: Will this project cause the Village to exceed its borrowing limits?
A: First off, borrowing limits for municipalities in Wisconsin are set by the State, which says that a community cannot have outstanding debt in excess of 5% of total property value. In 2017 that limit for the Village is $85,866,755. In Waunakee’s case, the Village Board goes a step further to limit our debt. The Board has established a policy that the Village will hold its outstanding debt at HALF of the State limit ($42,933,375 in 2017). Based on current estimates and property value growth projections, we do NOT expect that the Village’s debt will exceed its own policy in future years as a result of borrowing for the library project.

You can find more information about the Library project online at Village officials and staff remain eager to answer other questions from the public. Here’s how you can get hold of us:

Erick Plumb, Library Director – 849-4217 /
Todd Schmidt, Village Administrator- 850-5227 /
Chris Zellner, Village President – 849-4515 /