KENTVILLE - Kings County councillors say they want to know more before making a decision that could set a precedent for providing operating funds for libraries.
The town is considering a proposal by a local business to build a new, LEED-certified library on land Kentville owns at 133 River Street, opposite the police station. The proposed building would be between 4,000 and 4,500 square feet, doubling the space of the current 2,175-square foot library.
Mayor Dave Corkum asked county council to consider funding half the annual lease costs for the building, likely between $35,000 and $50,000; one-third of the one-time capital contributions, estimated at between $25,000 and $33,000; and half of the additional anticipated costs, somewhere between $7,500 and $10,000.
Corkum said the town “can’t afford to provide what is necessary” for the state-of-the-art library. He said the town needs the county’s support, adding that the request is about “fairness.” About 45 per cent of the current 5,457 active Kentville library users are from the county.
Corkum said there isn’t a date set for the current library building to come down to make way for the new bridge but “they have to get out of there before that.”
“We’re hoping not to have to re-locate the library for a short period of time,” Corkum said.
The developer has told Corkum that the building could be completed in six months. The new bridge project starts in January.
“We’d have to see what we can afford to do” without county support, Corkum said.
“Just as soon as you say ‘yes’, we’ll sign,” he added.
Corkum told county council Sept. 15 the town had looked at refurbishing an existing building, referencing a desire to see the former Edge building used but cautioned this might not be cost feasible.
This proposal is being promoted, he said, because a new library on River Street is what the Friends of the Kentville Library requested. Corkum hopes the group will be reactivated to help fundraise for the project.
Coun. Kim MacQuarrie moved successfully to have MacEwan prepare a report with options and recommendations for the Oct. 6 council meeting. Some councillors have also requested a workshop session.
Deputy Warden Brian Hirtle said the decision council makes would set a precedent. As MacEwan later pointed out, the county doesn’t provide operational funds to libraries; this generally falls to a village or town.
Coun. Wayne Atwater said this is a big decision and would mean a 20-year commitment for the county. He said the town has “put us into a pressure cooker” and county council needs more time.
The chief administrative officer has been directed to bring a report to Oct. 6 meeting that includes information on how much money the county currently provides the Annapolis Valley Regional Library; the amount the county has already given the Friends of the Kentville Library; a copy of the request for proposals issued by the town; other proposals received; information on net lease versus gross lease costs and how much county funding currently goes to each library.
CAO Tom MacEwan said there would be no immediate budget impact from supporting Kentville’s proposal; the expense would be in next year’s budget.
“The Town of Kentville needs to know if we’re in to determine the scope of the project,” MacEwan said.
What they said…
“We have to get out of this pressure cooker. We need the whole plate. This is a hodgepodge and we have to taste it all.” – Coun. Wayne Atwater
“I recognize we’re skipping the entire budget process here.” – Coun. Kim MacQuarrie
“I want to take a global look at things and that requires a plan.” – Coun. Pauline Raven