Pause Recommended on Library Planning and Special Election

August 16, 2019

Mayor Dave Bieter today recommended that the City of Boise pause planning for the Main Library Campus project and no longer pursue a special election on the project this November due to two new developments this week.

First, Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane, who is the chief elections officer for the county by state statute, informed Mayor Bieter that he will not put the special election item on the November ballot and that only legal action by the city could reverse his decision.

rendering of library

“I believe a new Main Library is vital to the future of our city and I will remain dedicated to making sure we have one,” said Mayor Bieter, who also consulted with Boise City Council President Pro Tem Elaine Clegg, the sponsor of the ordinance passed by the city council in July calling for the November special election, in making the recommendation. “However, with little time before ballots must be printed, and to avoid further confusion among residents, a court action simply isn’t viable at this time.”

Second, the project planning team informed the city this week that cost estimates for the project have come in higher than expected. The hot construction market, coupled with extreme volatility in the cost of building commodities, have escalated project costs at a rate that outpaces the city’s efforts to trim costs. As a result, estimated project costs are above the city’s planned $85 million budget, with no guarantee that costs will not continue to escalate.

Since the special election is unlikely to move forward, Mayor Bieter has cancelled Tuesday’s scheduled public hearing related to the vote, which had been planned for the city council’s regular 6 p.m. meeting. He also cancelled Tuesday’s planned 3 p.m. council briefing on the project to give the city more time to understand its options around project finances. Tuesday’s briefing was planned to cover the project’s next planning phase and cost estimates, among other topics. Much of the information planned for the presentation could change as a result of the new cost estimates.

“Our planning process worked exactly as it should by showing us these external market forces are putting too much pressure on our planned budget,” said Mayor Bieter. “The prudent option at this point is to pause the project so we can better understand our options going forward.”

Moving forward, the mayor will recommend the city explore a number of different options to address the project’s finances. These include, but may not be limited to, exploring greater philanthropic involvement; assessing whether an easing of market forces could help the project’s financial position; and possible design adjustments.

Once there’s a better understanding of how this new information impacts the project, the City of Boise will hold an open house for residents to give them an opportunity learn about these details and how the project will move forward.

“I continue to be committed to a new main library that meets the needs of our community with a fiscally responsible plan,” Mayor Bieter said. “Pausing our planning for the time being is a judicious and reasonable move to ensure a new Main Library is built for generations to come.”

Contact: Mayor's Office Media Relations

(208) 972-8527 | mjournee@cityofboise.org

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