A project to build a new Elkridge branch of the Howard County Library System is set to receive more funding in County Executive Ken Ulman’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 than previously announced, county budget administrator Ray Wacks said Monday.
According to Wacks, the county was able to funnel an additional $13.6 million to the project, which was initially awarded $6.255 million in the first version of Ulman’s capital budget.
Of the extra $13.6 million, Wacks said, $3 million is in the form of pay-as-you-go funds, $10 million comes out of a planned contribution to the county’s land acquisition fund and $600,000 comes from the Elkridge library’s fund balance.
With $19.86 million in funds, the Elkridge library project, which also includes plans for a senior center, will now be able to finish the design process and begin construction in fiscal year 2015.
A project schedule in the capital budget shows construction wrapping up in fiscal year 2016.
County Council member Courtney Watson, a Democrat from District 1 who represents parts of Elkridge, has been vocal in requesting additional funds for the library and senior center.
At an operating budget hearing on April 28, Watson told Jon Weinstein, a local businessman and candidate for Council District 1 who came to testify in support of the Elkridge library, that she had “been in talks with the county executive, and he has agreed to find necessary funds to bring that library on track.”
Howard County Library System CEO Valerie Gross, who also testified before the council Monday evening, agreed with Watson that the library needed to be built, in the council member’s words, “as quickly as possible.” Gross said she had discussed funding for the new Elkridge branch with the county executive.
According to a description in the capital budget, the project will remedy a deficit of library space in the Elkridge area.
The current Elkridge branch, which opened in August 1993, is 15,700 square feet, while the Howard County Library Facilities Assessment & Master Plan, published in 2004, calls for 35,000 square feet of library space for the community.
A feasibility study for the project, completed in fiscal year 2009, determined that – rather than renovate the current library – the optimal solution would be to build a new branch on the existing site of the library and demolish the current building once the new one is complete.
The project description calls the solution “a cost-effective plan, due to the current building structural limitations and obsolete systems.”
According to the county’s budget book, design for the library is 25 percent complete, and $150,000 had been spent on the project through February of this year.