The Library Board and Foundation are cautiously optimistic about an opportunity for Trenton to help us cross the finish line and build a new library. Our “Plan B” moved one step closer when Governor Christie approved the NJ Library Construction Bond Act in late July, which will appear as Question 1 on the November 7 General Election ballot. This bill will let voters decide if the state should issue $125 million in bonds to benefit NJ libraries. Proceeds of the bonds sales will be used to provide matching grants to public libraries to be used on renovation and construction projects. If NJ voters pass this referendum, the NJ State Library will oversee the grant process.
The NJ Library Construction Bond Act has bi-partisan support of over 50% of the NJ legislature. This referendum is not a tax. The state will repay the bonds out of state revenues and not through local property taxes. Rather, this is an economic bill which will invest in our state and support the economy. Senator Christopher Bateman, (R—Sommerset) was a primary sponsor of the Senate version of this bill. Known as the watchdog of the Senate he said, “I think this is necessary. I really do.”
Kirstie Venanzi, President of the Library Board of Trustees, attended the Township Committee Meeting on Monday, September 11 to clarify the Library Board’s position in regards to accepting bids for the construction of the new library. At this meeting she spoke about an email received after the August 14 TC meeting. The email from the Township Administrator and Township Committee stated the legal procedure to accept bids.
“In order to award the bid, the entire contract value of $3,089,197.00 must be certified as funds available. As of today the only funds available to be certified are the cash in hand of $2,226,461.00 and the $475,000 from the Township. Even if the Township was willing to waive the contingency and was willing to contribute an additional $91,501 it would take the introduction of a bond ordinance which involves first reading, second reading two weeks later, and then a 21 day estoppel period from the date of advertisement of the adopted ordinance. This timeline would far exceed September 27th bid acceptance deadline. In addition, the library would still be short $296,235.00 and legally unable to certify the funds in order to award the bid.”
As such, the Library Board of Trustees voted to reject all bids due to a shortfall in funds on Thursday, September 14 at their monthly meeting. To read the Resolution 2017-1 go to cranburypubliclibrary.org under Approved Minutes 2017.