Library boiler replacement project underway
The Great Falls Public Library is replacing its aged and failing boiler in a $459,000 project.
The boiler replacement was identified through an energy performance audit that McKinstry Essention, LLC performed at the request of the city.
The city approved a contract with McKinstry in August 2017 to perform an energy audit of city facilities including the library, Civic Center, downtown parking facilities, and police and fire stations.
McKinstry developed a large and comprehensive list of energy savings projects as well as required improvements due to deferred maintenance, safety and code compliance issues. Representatives from McKinstry have reviewed the list with the City Commission during work sessions.
Since the city couldn’t complete the entire list of improvements due to budget constraints, city staff worked with McKinstry to prioritize projects and McKinstry solicited competitive bids from area subcontracts based on the priority list.
The project is being funded through the Library Capital Reserve Fund.
Library Director Kathy Mora told the library board that the boiler replacement work would begin Oct. 1 for asbestos abatement in the boiler room. The new boiler is smaller than the current one and will be installed where the chiller now sits. The chiller is being cut up so that the smaller pieces can be removed from the boiler room, Mora said. Residents may notice some black smoke rising from the roof of the library due to the torches being used to cut up the chiller on the library’s third floor this week.
“We have not had any indication that we’ll have to close the library,” for the project, Mora told the board.
Once that is done, more abatement work must be done before the old boiler can be removed from the building, Mora said.
If there’a a cold spell, the library will continue to operate on the current boiler until the work can be completed, Mora said.
The library requested funding for the project from the Great Falls Public Library Foundation. The foundation created a committee to comb through their minutes and documents and determined that infrastructure projects were outside the mission of the foundation and declined to fund the project.
The foundation does have some funding that a donor designated for building improvements that may be available to support the project.
Cascade County Commissioners included an additional one-time $17,000 for the library in this year’s budget, which was approved on Sept. 25.
Some library board members asked if the city would replenish the library’s reserves for the project.
That’s unlikely since city officials have often indicated that the this is the kind of project the reserve funds are for.
For this fiscal year, the library is projected to have a fund balance of $872,675.
The goal for the library fund is a 17 percent fund balance, which is $235,662, according to city budget documents. The fund has $$560,880 reserved for HVAC, boiler and roof repairs in this budget year, according to city budget documents.
The library fund revenues are 57 percent property taxes, 26 percent in city general fund support; and 17 percent other: county, state aid, fines and fees and donations, according to city budget documents. The city has an agreement with the library to provide nine mills. City Manager Greg Doyon has said in past budget discussions that the city has funded the library at levels above the nine mills for years, but has recently cut back to the agreed nine mills level due to other budget needs within the city.
The library is not set up as an enterprise fund, Mora told The Electric. Enterprise funds are designed to generate their own revenues to be self-sustaining.