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Waccamaw Library: Building plan firm, but funding goal elusive

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

As a result of shrinking revenue, Georgetown County’s contribution toward a new Waccamaw Library might also get smaller.

That means the library’s Friends group, tasked with raising about half the funds for the proposed $6 million facility, could see its fundraising goal shifting yet again.

The county is supposed to put $3.4 million toward the new library under the current version of its capital improvement plan, but when that plan gets updated next month, that figure could drop by several hundred thousand dollars, said Dwight McInvaill, the county’s library director.

A report presented to the county library board last week predicted a $715,000 difference that would have to be made up through grants or other fundraising efforts if the library that staff and patrons envision is to be built.

By Tuesday that gap had gotten about $400,000 smaller, the result of continuing work by county staff on revisions to the plan.

And it may shrink more by the time the updates go to County Council next month.

“It’s a moving target,” McInvaill said. “These numbers are still very preliminary.”

If the county’s contribution toward a new library does get cut, it is still uncertain exactly how the Friends’ fundraising goal will be affected.

“There are some things yet to be discussed,” McInvaill said.

The Friends were originally tasked with raising only $500,000 for the new library. The goal was raised to $2.6 million, then $3 million. The last increase was to accommodate a $1 million grant McInvaill applied for that required a three-to-one match.

“The proposal wasn’t successful, but we may resubmit,” McInvaill said. That decision would affect the fundraising goal.

McInvaill said he needs to talk with members of a capital campaign committee formed by the Friends, and a consulting firm that was hired to lead the fundraising campaign before he will know more about how much money would need to be raised in the event of cuts to county funding.

McInvaill is putting those discussions off until after the revisions to the plan are completed and approved next month.

If cuts are approved, even under the worst case scenario discussed last week, McInvaill and others involved with the project will forge ahead.

“We’ll just roll up our sleeves and do what we can,” McInvaill said. “That’s the way it is with this Great Recession.”

A new Georgetown Library has been moved entirely out of the first phase of the plan because of falling revenues, County Administrator Sel Hemingway told County Council earlier this month.

McInvaill isn’t happy about the setback for either library, but he said he understands why the changes are necessary.

“Revenue streams haven’t reached the level that was projected,” he said. That includes money from bonds, impact fees and the state’s 2 percent tax on short-term rentals.

“What else can you do when there’s not as much money coming in?” McInvaill said. “It’s the responsible thing” to reduce spending.

The new Waccamaw Library that officials are hoping for is 27,000 square feet — a 20,000-square-foot improvement over the existing facility — and will have a cultural center, Friends of the Library store, auditorium, café, and separate areas for children, teens and adults.

“If we’re faced with building a smaller facility,” McInvaill said, “we will do so in a very fiscally conservative way and we will leave room to expand.”

The new library is projected to open in July 2014. The reductions won’t change that, McInvaill said.

The Friends of the Waccamaw Library are hosting a holiday book sale on Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Dec. 11 from 9 a.m. to noon at the library.

Unlike the group’s summer sale, tickets are not required. The event is open to the public.

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