Library plans for renovations

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

VIDALIA &045; After temporarily putting plans on hold, upcoming renovations to the Concordia Parish Library in Vidalia should soon be back on track.

Library Director Amanda Taylor said the library board stalled discussions of the renovations in recent weeks when they decided to request fiscal independence from the Police Jury.

The requested independence, approved by the Jury Monday night, was a result of a bill for accounting services received from the Jury.

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&uot;The jury made a decision to start charging the public library for bookkeeping and administrative work,&uot; Taylor said. &uot;We got a bill for $16,000. We didn’t know the bill was coming and just didn’t understand.&uot;

Taylor said board members met with the jury and decided they thought they could get the accounting work done for a cheaper price. She said they have found an offer for between $3,600 and $4,000.

Police Jury secretary Russell Wagoner said the bill was just like the ones other jury accounts received.

&uot;They (past juries) have not billed them as they billed all other accounts,&uot; Wagoner said. &uot;They’ve been getting a free ride. I requested the jury look into billing them just like any other entity that we handle funds for.&uot;

The fiscal independence approved Monday night allows the library to start taking steps to handling their own money, but the final request must be approved by the Legislature.

Legally, the library will still be under the Police Jury, which will appoint board members, but the library board will handle its own bookkeeping.

Library funding comes entirely from the 10-year tax millage on the people of the parish. The only other money they take in is in the form of book fines and photocopy costs, which just covers the cost of the equipment.

&uot;It was just a good business decision for the library board,&uot; Taylor said. &uot;We left on good spirits and want to keep a good relationship with the Jury.&uot;

When the financial discussions started the library board stepped back on Vidalia renovation plans, but Taylor said she expects the board to go ahead with construction plans at their next meeting.

&uot;We were already working with two architects, but when these questions came up it brought the project to a halt until we got a clear understanding,&uot; Taylor said.

The library will stay in the old courthouse building and grow in size considerably. The current 2,300 square foot space will grow to 900,000 square feet, in compliance with Vidalia’s projected growth analysis.

Taylor said before renovation discussions stopped, the board had a construction start goal of this summer, something she thinks will still be the goal.

&uot;We aren’t under pressure to start at any time,&uot; Taylor said. &uot;When we get the plans like we think they should be, we’ll go ahead. We want to avoid change orders that cost a lot of money.&uot;

The library has about $1 million saved for the construction work. Work is estimated to be between $800,000 and $900,000.