Library asks for more funds

TREMONT — After selecting a contractor to complete the library’s expansion project, selectmen authorized the use of operating funds in case the money is needed to complete construction.

“Our goal is not to use it, but we don’t have enough in the capital reserve fund to pay for the contract you just approved,” Mike Hays, a member of the Bass Harbor Memorial Library’s board of trustees, told the selectmen Monday night. “We think we can raise it. We think we can raise it rather quickly.

“Moneys we raise in excess will go right back into the library’s operating fund,” Hays added.

Before the start of the library’s expansion and renovation project, the board of trustees raised $470,000 in a capital campaign. The goal was not to use the whole amount for the construction aspect of the project but to also be able to purchase furniture and equipment for the 770-square-foot addition.

Because the library is a town-owned property, selectmen are required to approve all expenditures, as well as contracts and amendments to them.

In November 2019, the board of trustees terminated its contract with New Yankee Builders for the project due to several missed deadlines, according to Hays. Originally, the expansion and renovation project was scheduled to be complete by November. That deadline was extended until March 2020, but trustees are not expecting that deadline will be met, either. Hays previously said he thinks doors to the new space will open by summer.

After the contract with New Yankee Builders was terminated, Mel Atherton’s contract as clerk-of-the-works for the project was also terminated. His company, IWA, was then hired to winterize the building and come up with a list of items needed to complete the project. The contract to finish the project went out to bid in December.

Two companies bid on the project, Maine Highlands Contracting out of Etna and MDI Property Maintenance and Management LLC out of Tremont. Selectman Mike Mansolilli, who owns the latter company, recused himself during the library business discussions.

Library trustees recommended the Board of Selectmen award the bid to Maine Highlands Contracting for the proposed cost of $166,757. Mansolilli’s company proposed finishing the project at a cost of $254,928.

“We do have a performance bond for this one,” said Hays about the contract.

“You probably want a bid bond also,” said Selectman Howard “Howdy” Goodwin.

Select Board Chair Jamie Thurlow was hesitant to quickly award the bid.

“I’m going to be extra cautious here,” he said to Hays. “This company has only been in business for two years.”

After a discussion between Hays and the board, a motion was made to award the bid to Maine Highlands Contracting for the proposed amount, plus the cost of a bid bond.

Selectmen were then asked to authorize Town Manager Chris Saunders to sign a contract to appoint Mel Atherton as clerk-of-the-works once again for the project.

“We’ve used Mel Atherton in a number of roles for this project and he’s performed really well,” said Hays. “He’s been willing to do more than he’s needed to do. Everyone on the library board has complete confidence in Mel.”

Selectmen voted unanimously in favor of appointing Atherton to the position. They then were asked to authorize use of the library’s operating funds to make sure the library trustees can pay for the financial commitments they’ve made, according to Hays.

He estimated the operating fund now has about $45,000 in it and asked selectmen to authorize use of $40,000.

“We don’t want to touch it,” said Hays, who explained that 90 percent of the library’s funding comes from taxpayers. “If they spend over the amount, the board is on the hook for the deficit.”

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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