OBJECTION PETITION & RESPONSE

Below are the objections to the 2003 library budget as listed in the objection petition 
signed by 22 citizens of LaGrange County on 9/3/2002.
Each objection is followed by the Library Board's response, 
as delivered on 9/16/2002. 
OBJECTION #1:  The proposed building cost of $5,700,000 plus interest of $4,810,000 for a total cost to the taxpayer of $10,510,000 is EXCESSIVE.  When you take the proposed sq. ft. of the 1st floor, and even if you add the 25,400 sq. ft. unfinished basement for a total square footage of 5,700, then divide that into the $10,510,000 cost you're paying a whopping $203.29 per sq. ft.--and that is really excessive. 
RESPONSE #1:  The cost of the principal of bonds is $5.7 million for the entire library building project.  That includes all furnishings, equipment, and state-of-the-art computer technology.  Interest is not customarily included when figuring project costs.  For example, when purchasing real estate, the cost quoted is for the home and/or land only; interest is not figured in.  Therefore, that interest figure is not included in the building project's cost per square foot, which is estimated at $140 per square foot for the main level and $20 per square foot for the lower level.

OBJECTION #2:  This $10 1/2 million project has a lower level or basement that doesn't even have: HEATING, COOLING, LIGHTING, EXTERIOR GLAZING, CEILING OR FLOOR SLAB -- except for a cemented elevator pit and a small mechanical room, it's just a DIRT FLOOR!  By not hatying [sic] or cooling this space will cause a heating burden on the main level, and the control of humidity will be more difficult.  And after 20 years this continual moisture could become a mold problem with potential health concerns.
RESPONSE #2:  The project cost is $5.7 million and cannot be more than that.  That  includes the cost of concreting the lower level floor.  The floor can be concreted to satisfy individuals even though there would be added costs to remove it in the event of expansion.  The lower floor was not to be finished until plans for future expansion were known, including under-floor computer wiring, plumbing, and heating needs.  Sufficient ventilation would prevent moisture problems were the floor not concreted.

OBJECTION #3:  The proposed design of the building doesn't fit in with the architectural style and historical personality of LaGrange and the surrounding towns.  This might be okay--perhaps even "stylish" in Baltimore or Indianapolis, but it's not appropriate for LaGrange County.  frankly [sic], it looks like an airplane hanger, not a library!  And what about the cost of the glass "curtain wall" on the north side of the building? Other than giving one a view of the "pit" to the north, all it does is permit a view of the "dirt floor" basement!
RESPONSE #3:  The library building design is still being "worked."  There is no reason to have a "government-style" building in a residential area; concrete and brick masses might look out of place.  Glass walls are as energy efficient as many other kinds of building materials.  Such walls also allow natural lighting opportunities.  We plan for an attractively landscaped area for outdoor use on the north side of the building.

OBJECTION #4:  Only three soil borings were taken at the Culp site.  Nearly 40 soil borings and samples were taken at the new $8 million jail, and still they missed a couple of critical areas at the actual building location and found contaminated soil.  I understand that the county has sued the architect, builder etc. for nearly $800,000 to cover the cost of removing the contaminated soil, attorney fees, etc.!  The Library Board architect has stated that "three soil borings" weren't adequate and he would take "many more" before starting constructions of the building.  These extra soil borings are not included in the project cost, and thus $150 per boring and you take 40 borings--that's an extra $6,000 !  And soil borings alone will not indicate if the soil is contaminated-- only soil sampling and analysis will do that.  ANOTHER COST NOT INCLUDED!
RESPONSE #4:  Initial soil borings are required for drainage and use purposes.  Further borings are needed more specifically for building purposes and as a different type not done until construction areas are well defined.  The costs are covered in the contingency amount in the estimates, but are not specific in amounts as they are unknown costs.

OBJECTION #5:  The site is too small for realistic future expansion.  Co. Rd. 50 N is only 20 feet wide at the site; utility lines are just 5 feet from the pavement edge.  There are no sidewalks available, nor is there even a berm along the road.  There's a 35 foot setback from Co. Rd. 50 N, and a 75 foot drainage ditch setback on the west side; a 20 foot utility easement on the east; and a large pit to the north.  Though you can have parking over the setback areas, you can not construct a building there.  Thus the actual building area is very limited, leaving very little room for expansion.
And, should repairs under the paved areas ever be required (for instance because of the drainage ditch), --the Library Board (and thus the taxpayers) will have to pay the replacement bill.
RESPONSE #5:  The present library is 13,000+ square feet.   The initial planning by the board, with input from library builders, staff needs, and projection of three times the square footage for a 50-75 year period, led us to plan 26,000+ square feet on one floor with an additional area to be used on a lower level.  In addition, there is available expansion to the south and north of the planned building.

OBJECTION #6:  There are a number of items not included in the $10.5 million project cost:  "Reimbursable expenses of Architect".  These are a number of items which are in addition to compensation for the architect's services. Per paragraph 13.9.2 of the A.I. A. Document, signed by the Library Board Dec. 17, 2001, items such as these area[sic] extra:  "expenses incurred by the architect and architect's employees or consultants directly related to the project".  Under sub-items .1 - .8, "transportation in connection with the project"; "fees paid for the necessary approval of authorities having jurisdiction over the project"; "reproduction of plans, etc.".
Paragraph 15.2 shows "standard hourly rates": architect partner at $105/hr, down to clerical employee at $35/hr.  Here's an example:  the architect has stated that he would probably provide 200 sets of construction plans to bidders for this project.  When asked the cost he replied "from $8,500 to $10,000" !
Another cost not included.  And all of this PLUS a 6% of the construction costs fee!
How many more things are out there?
RESPONSE #6:  The hourly rates for clerical and other work categories are in the contract for billing purposes.  They are included in the fixed maximum fee of the contract.  Morrison Kattman Menze, Inc. had a lower fee than other firms interviewed.  Their firm is in the business of building libraries.  The board feels very comfortable and satisfied with this firm.  Until a plan is firmly in place, there are many unknowns.  Therefore, the estimated project cost of $5.7 million is given.  That is the maximum that can be spent.

OBJECTION #7:  Because the unfinished basement level is considerably lower than the sewer line connection, the architect has stated that a lift pump will be needed to pump sewage up to the line.  ANOTHER EXPENSE NOT INCLUDED in the $10 1/2 million package!  There will be a need for a telephone/computer system as well as for a building security system-- these are also not included!  Depending on the system chosen, this could run an additional $10,000 - $20,000 ! Also, there doesn't appear to be a retention pond -- necessary for storm water run-off --, nor safety fencing for the pond in the $10 1/2 million project cost.  And the list seems to go on and on !
RESPONSE #7:  The library has less sewer and water usage than an average family home.  A lift pump, if needed, is included in the total project cost of $5.7 million.
        The library board will, of necessity, determine the types of telephone/computer and security systems needed.  The library already deals with a specific technology firm for computers and equipment, and is in the process of automating library procedures and  security.
        The retention pond already on the grounds will be used as needed, landscaped, and safety precautions will be added as needed.
        The library does have some funds to direct toward the "finishing" efforts of the building project.  The Master Gardeners of LaGrange County are looking forward to landscaping the site.

OBJECTION #8:  The Umbaugh contract for "Financial Advisory Services: signed by the Library Board December 17, 2001, calls for a number of fees to be paid by them--all of which are not included in the project cost.  For instance, Article 2(a) , (B) and (C) would entitle them to fees from a minimum of $15,000 to $19,500.  Under Article 3 (A), (B) and (C), fees due would be an additional $3,800PLUS the board will have to pay them "actual time and expenses incurred, based upon the billing rate of personnel involved": (who knows what that could cost since no figures were given) for services; Under Article 1 (D)(d) "Objecting Petition/Remonstrance", it states: "Assist Library board in coordinating information and developing strategies for a petition drive" as well as meeting with attorneys etc.  TAXPAYERS ARE THUS FORCES TO PAY THESE COSTS SO THE LIBRARY BOARD CAN DEFEND IT'S ACTION TO SPEND $10.5 MILLION on a building with a "dirt floor" , at a site too small for realistic future expansion. THAT'S OUTRAGEOUS !
RESPONSE #8:  The information that H. J. Umbaugh & Associates have supplied was included in an initial report to the library board in June, prior to the remonstrance introduction.  There have been no additional charges from the firm since that June report, aside from a regular payment in keeping with the contract.  A group of interested and supportive library users and friends is funding the response to the remonstrance and petitions, not the taxpayers through library funds.

OBJECTION #9:  Abandoning the current downtown location will add significantly to the DETERIORATION OF DOWNTOWN LAGRANGE.  An effort to relocate in the downtown area would tend to give credence as a positive step that the community is committed to maintaining our town and county as a progressive, stable and prosperous county seat and community.
RESPONSE #9:  The LaGrange County Library serves the citizens of LaGrange County, not just the town of LaGrange.  The first area the library board considered for building placement was in town.  The main things the board feels are necessary for the library are:

  • Space on a single floor (25,000 square feet),
  • Room for expansion as needed for 50-75 years,
  • Accessibility for all persons (including to-the-door accessibility), and
  • Parking for 75 or more vehicles.
There was no location in town that could meet these requirements.  People who use the library will go to the library no matter where it is.  The present town location of the library has not been a retaining feature for downtown business and activity, and we do not see that it would "save" the downtown area if a block or more were demolished to provide space for a new library that would meet the needs listed above.

OBJECTION #10:  For a project as important as a county library, it seems that public input is vital, along with coordination with the County Comprehensive Plan, and other updates on the Strategic Plan.  A process involving specifically invited county officials and community leaders as well as the general public to a series of meetings headed by a trained, neutral facilitator.  These meetings would address the following topics:

  1. A detailed county library needs assessment--
  2. A brainstorming session to determine what we would like the library to be at least 10 years down the line.
  3. A session devoted to how the library could/would fit into the county plan.  Such things as traffic patterns, growth patterns, time usage, educational opportunities, etc. should all be considered.
  4. One or two sessions to try to fit the "dreams" from item 3 above into a "possibility" format.
  5. Then and only then would the board begin to discuss with architects proposals that would fit into the results of the planning sessions.
It is ONLY through a means such as this that a plan can be developed that will fill the needs and be acceptable to a MAJORITY of LaGrange County citizens.  This has not been done prior to the bond proposal, and frankly, the library board has mostly ignored efforts to insert public input in the form of comments at the board meetings, and through letters to the editors of local papers.
RESPONSE #10:
  1. Needs Assessment:  Seven years ago, after public input, staff input, board visits to other libraries, and current building assessment, it was suggested that a new library could be built for less than the cost of renovation, which still would not meet the criteria of space, accessibility, and parking.  At that point, it was estimated that a new building would cost about $3 million and and the cost would increase about $1 million per year.  Six years later, a cost increase of only $2.7 million dollars is actually a bargain, especially with lower interest rates.
  2. Board members, who are appointed by elected individuals to represent the county residents, spoke with LaGrange town officials, fire department representatives, county government officials, friends, neighbors, library users, and library non-users.  They formulated plans for 50-75 years down the line. (See Library Building Project, 1996-2001.)
  3. At this time, a 1974 county comprehensive plan is in effect.  Libraries are generally a part of the residential community and County Road 50N has become a residential area.  The presence of a library would enhance property values for nearby residents.  It would also be convenient--less than one mile from the center of the county.  Water and sewer access is available, and there is no need for a deceleration lane.  Meeting rooms of various sizes will be an asset and parking will be available, as well as an accessible building--a learning environment.
  4. There were public meetings held, as well as regular board meetings, which are open to the public for comments.  In February 2002, there were three days of public meetings held morning, noon, afternoon, evening, and night for input into the building of the library.  A great many ideas were contributed.
  5. An architecture firm that specializes in building libraries has a great deal of experience in combining ideas with necessities.
It should be noted that redoing all of the planning and preparation, purchasing a site, looking at higher interest rates, interviewing and hiring an architectural firm, and delaying building for a few years could not possibly be any less costly than the project expectations at the present time.