In response to concerns voiced Tuesday by Sarasota County Commission Chairwoman Nora Patterson, county staff will examine ways to accelerate the construction of the new Gulf Gate Library. The project is set to start in Fiscal Year 2015.
During a budget workshop at the County Administration Building, Patterson pointed to the FY 2015 schedule and asked Jim Harriott, the county’s executive director for public works, “Surely we’re not waiting till 2015” to break ground?
Harriott said staff had noted during a June budget discussion that the county would not have the approximately $7 million in extra funding it needs for the project until FY 2015. The total cost of the new library has been estimated at $9,403,660. To date, only $2,403,660 has been allocated for it, according to materials supplied to the commissioners.
However, Harriott said, once the design is complete, other funding options can be explored.
Commissioner Joe Barbetta pointed out that interest rates on bonds “are right around zero,” construction costs remain low, “and we need the jobs.”
“I agree completely,” Patterson said. When she campaigned for County Commission in 1998, she said, the new library was being discussed then. Putting it off until FY 2015, she said, “is really a promise broken.”
Additionally, Patterson said, “(The existing) library is really, really not up to county standards. … So I’d like to find a way, if not next year, at least the year after, to get it started, and I thought we had that discussion several times, so maybe bring us a plan.”
Harriott promised to present the commission with funding options once the design is complete. The commission already is set to discuss sites for the library as part of its Sept. 14 agenda, staff said.
“Good,” Patterson responded.