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Great Bend Public Library mindful of spending
Costs of new HVAC system depleted budget allocations
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 Great Bend Public Library Director Harry Willems has advised his staff to be extra thrifty, he told his board of directors Monday afternoon.

With half of 2015 in the books, the library has used over 60 percent of its budget. “There’s not a real good feeling about this budget,” he said.

But, “we’re still functioning,” he said, adding they are trying to get things back on track. He has asked all of the departments to cut $3,000 in spending.

Nonetheless, if the picture isn’t brighter by the fourth quarter, more reductions may be needed. “By the end of the year, it could be a problem,” Willems said.

The GBPL’s total budget comes to $655,999.64 and, of that, it has spent $435,908.82 so far. This leaves a balance of just over $220,000 to carry it through December.

Why the expenditures? Over the first six months, the facility had on-going costs related to the new heating, air conditioning and ventilation system.

The geothermal HVAC system was switched on earlier this year. However, the nearly $800,000 advanced by City of Great Bend, which owns the building, raised the ire of city officials.

The city funds the library for about $670,000 each year through a mill levy. In February, the City Council had to approve an emergency payment to cover the HVAC’s cost, a payment the library is paying back.

The goal of the new system was to be more environmentally sound and cut utility costs. Thus far, Willems said the bills have been lower, but it was too soon to tell how much will be saved.

Budget approval

Willems also apologized to the board and the media for issues surrounding the approval of the 2016 budget. “We were in a gray area with open meetings,” he said.

Last May, the library board was set to approve the budget. However, there were errors in the 2015 numbers used for comparison purposes.

Board members hesitated to approve the spending plan, uncomfortable with the mistakes. They wanted to see a corrected version before acting on it.

So, Willems made the needed changes. Then, it was OKed during a special meeting that was not publicized.

Willems vowed to be more cognisant of the Kansas Open Meetings Act in the future.