In order to conceal the identities of private donors who have pledged roughly $27.5 million toward the construction of the schoobrary, the city has told acting State Librarian Stacey Aldrich that it will be the source of that money.

In February, then-State Librarian Susan Hildreth asked the city to provide more detailed information on the private donors as a condition of extending a $20 million state grant that is a crucial component of the project’s funding. Hildreth had expressed concerns over whether that private money would actually be available. She set a July 1 deadline for the city to provide that information along with revised cost and budget estimates.

But the library foundation, which raised those funds, has refused to divulge that information until the City Council takes a final vote on the project. Instead, in the budget attached to a letter sent Monday by Darren Greenhalgh, deputy director of architectural engineering, the city has listed itself as the source of those funds.

Mayoral spokeswoman Rachel Laing said the city had been provided evidence by library boosters that the money was, in fact, available for the project.

“We were shown certified letters to show that these were real pledges with money behind them. They were recent, updated recommitments,” Laing said.

In order to convince the state librarian that the money is available while keeping the donors’ identities secret, the city is guaranteeing those funds — but not legally guaranteeing them.

The city, Laing said, will not be on the hook for that money if the funding does not pan out as planned.

The state librarian’s office was okay with that, she said.

Project Cost Decreases By $10 million

In the revised cost estimates sent Monday, the project’s cost actually decreased by $10 million. I couldn’t get in touch with Greenhalgh today to find out the reason for the lower estimate, but most observers had expected construction costs to increase, not decrease.

The construction costs were last pegged in 2005.

The city’s calculations accompanying Monday’s letter don’t seem to add up, though. On numbered page 28 of the city’s letter, the city lists the $20 million state grant and $100 million in local matching funds currently available for the project.

But in breaking down that $100 million figure, it lists $80 million available from downtown redevelopment money, $20 million from the revenue it expects from leasing the sixth and seventh floors for a charter school, and more than $29 million from the city, $27.5 million which is actually the private donor money.

That adds up to almost $130 million.

I’m hoping to speak with Greenhalgh tomorrow to clear up what looks like may be a serious miscalculation.


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