The Great Bend City Council Monday night approved a resolution allowing the transfer of funds for the Great Bend Public Library heating and air conditioning system loan. The amount being transferred is $762,012.92.
On Feb. 16, the council agreed to assist the library board by covering contractual obligations. To repay the money, the city will retain a quarterly $25,000 installment from the mill distribution to the library until it is paid in full, or over eight and quarter years.
There is also 2 percent interest being charged.
The agreement establishes the conditions upon which the city will pay for the system up front and be paid back from the one mill levy that was approved in 2013 for library capital improvements. The new was system was the initial project in this improvement plan.
Where the city owns the 40-year-old library building at 1409 Williams, the library is operated by the seven-member Great Bend Library Board.
City Administrator Howard Partington said the city’s auditors asked that a resolution authorizing these transfers be approved. The actual loan to cover the cost was approved at the Feb. 16 meeting.
On a related note, Councilman Dana Dawson addressed comments he made at that Feb. 16 meeting. He referred to the Library Board as a “loose cannon.”
“I apologize for that,” he said Monday night. “However, I do stand by my comments in regards to (the library’s) administrator (Director Harry Willems).”
Dawson called Willems irresponsible for his actions with the improvements to the library and for what he termed “slanderous comments” about the council Willems made in a broadcast interview.
He also said Willems has not been forthcoming with the real cost of the project. Factoring in the architectural fees and the cost to drill the needed wells for the high-tech geothermal system, the total expense comes to over $927,000, not the $750,000 Willems has been quoted as saying.
“This all could have been avoided if he had come to the council and said the building needs a new heating and air conditioning system,” Dawson said.
The future of the library, Dawson said, should be up to the people of Great Bend, not Willem or the board. He encouraged residents to express their opinions.