The municipality’s second budget increase for the library renovation and expansion project was unanimously approved by council July 3, taking the project to $8.5 million – a million dollars over the original budget.
The increase is the result of a number of surprises in the old library – a heritage building that, according to federal regulations, must be preserved and maintained.
Some of the unexpected expenditures included the need for additional structural framing, the levelling of the old floors, the stabilization of a crumbling chimney and the removal of asbestos.
Also included in the million dollars are additional permit fees, which increased to match the new construction costs, and a $300,000 contingency.
The budget increase will be covered by provincial grant funding from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative.
Before voting on the increase, town councillors and members of administration took a tour of the library and cultural centre June 26.
Mayor Richard Ireland said the tour was “a great way to put things into perspective.”
“It is from all appearances going to be a magnificent building. It will be a lasting legacy for our community,” he said, noting that seeing the building makes the budget increase “more palatable.”
When asked whether this will be the last increase, Alice Lettner, the municipality’s director of finance, said she believes the additional $300,000 contingency should cover any other surprises.
The first budget increase came in February after the construction crew ran into its first round of surprises – more asbestos than was expected, an unlevel floor, expected savings that weren’t realized and the need for an additional contingency.
During the July 3 meeting of council, Ireland said his concern with the budget isn’t that it has increased to $8.5 million – an amount he said he would have approved in the first place – but rather, that the current budget procedures led to council approving an insufficient budget.
Construction of the library and cultural centre began in November of last year, and is expected to be completed the winter of 2013.
Once it’s up and running, the building will house the Habitat for the Arts, the Jasper Artists Guild, L’association canadienne-française de l’Alberta, as well as the library. Also included will be a video conference room, a sitting area, a cafe, an office for the mayor and council and a multi-purpose room that will be used for council meetings, among other things.