The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

August 4, 2013

Library seeks $1M line of credit

By Kim West

— Library officials are seeking a $1 million line of credit to temporarily cover construction expenses for the second portion of a two-phase new library being built in the former Kroger’s building on Jefferson Street.

Local banks are being asked to submit an RFP, or request for proposal, for a line of credit with interest paid monthly and the Southard Trust as collateral. The RFP, which is due in writing by 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, should be turned into Library Director Paula Laurita at the current library at 405 E. South Street.

The trust, valued at slightly more than $2.7 million as of July 16, is the major source of funding for the library’s annual operating budget, which received $133,262 from the trust, $115,000 from the city, $80,000 from the county for fiscal 2013-14. The endowment is contributing $1 million toward the new library.

“(The RFP) … will be used to provide temporary funding to cover construction expenses during our fundraising period,” said Susan Ming, vice president of the foundation board. “Repayment will come from pledges that have been secured, and will be collected over a 3-year period. This is a method that is familiar to many people, as it is typically used by churches for building projects that are being paid for with pledges to allow construction to move forward during the pledge payment period.” 

Phase II construction could begin in early December, while Phase I, which began June 5, is projected by construction officials to end by Nov. 30.

Fundraising consultant Debbie Joyner said during the July 18 foundation board meeting that the Library Foundation has about $250,000 in pledges scheduled for payment during the next three years, along with an estate gift worth $500,000.

Joyner said Friday a local bank official told her the longer the Kroger building sat unused and empty, the more likely it would deteriorate. One of the requirements for the $1 million Dekko Foundation matching grant secured by the foundation last year is for completed construction by spring 2014. The new library is projected for completion by late May 2014.

Mayor Ronnie Marks said in July that the RFP is necessary to ensure construction invoices are paid as the foundation collects additional funding. He said Phase II could cost about $2.3 million or $2.4 million.

“We have about $1.6 million in cash you can count in, but we’re not going forward with Phase II unless we have some documentation or proof that the money is going to be there,” Marks said. “I want to emphasize I have all the confidence in the world that it is going to happen … we can do one of two things — we can build out the library, or sit and wait until pledges come in. Fundraising is tough but we have a commitment to the community to go forward with the project.”