With $1.31 million raised in its community fund-raising campaign, the Milford Public Library is hoping to get another $1 million from the General Assembly when it announces the 2008-2009 bond bill next month. That would add up to enough funding to start the long-planned addition to the library building this year.
After more than a year of planning, fund-raising and campaigning, now it comes down to waiting.
“We’re just sitting in limbo,” said Milford Public Library Director Kay Hudson.
With $1.31 million raised in its community fund-raising campaign, the library is hoping to get another $1 million from the General Assembly when it announces the 2008-2009 bond bill next month. That would add up to enough funding to start the long-planned addition to the library building this year.
“As long as we’ve got the money in the budget this year, I’m definitely going to try to get them their funding,” said state Sen. Gary Simpson (R-Milford), one of the city’s two representatives on the bond bill committee along with Rep. V. George Carey (R-36).
Standard policy for library construction in Delaware is for the state to provide half the funding while the local library raises the other half on its own. The estimated total cost of the Milford expansion is $3.5 million, meaning each side has to supply $1.75 million all told.
Milford Public Library Director Kay Hudson and Board of Directors Chairman Richard Johnson originally hoped the first block of funding would come last year, but the state turned them down because they hadn’t raised enough money to fund their half yet. This year, with donations from community members, local governments, businesses and charitable groups well into seven figures, that’s not a problem.
“They’ve done a real good job of raising local dollars and getting the community involved,” Simpson said.
Instead, Carey and Simpson both said, the main obstacle to funding the library this year would be if the overall budget is too tight to allow it.
“I certainly hope we can get Milford started this year,” Carey said. “We just have to make sure the money is there first.”
Gov. Ruth Ann Minner’s recommended budget includes money for the Milford library, but whether that becomes a reality has a lot to do with the recommendations of the Joint Finance Committee, to be delivered by mid-June. That will determine how much the state can spend on this year’s bond bill.
“It’ll be a couple more weeks before we have more details on the state operational budget,” Simpson said. “After that’s done, we’ll know more about how much money is available for things like the library fund.”
Library officials know the state’s budgetary woes could be a problem, but they’re not giving up hope.
“We hope we’re in good shape this year,” Johnson said. “The state’s being tough with everybody right now.”
It’s already clamped down on the Dover Public Library, which had to return $500,000 of state money that it received in previous years and never spent.
“Whatever they do, we’re proud of what we’ve done,” Hudson said. “I don’t know how this community could show more support than it has in this past year.”