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County prepares bid requests for 3 libraries

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By Gregory A. Summers

The bid packages to expand two county libraries and move a third one will be going out soon, and with construction costs exploding across the region, county leaders are unsure what to expect.
A total of $8 million is set aside to pay for library improvements in Indian Land, Lancaster and Kershaw, but whether that will be enough for the proposed changes is anybody’s guess.
“It’s where the rubber hits the road,” said Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis.
But no one is on the verge of pushing a panic button, said Lancaster County Councilwoman Charlene McGriff.
Building costs came up briefly during a library project discussion at the June 20 meeting of county council’s Administration Committee. Mc-Griff chairs the committee, which includes council members Allen Blackmon and Steve Harper.
When the bids for the proposed EMS Station 4/9 on Bailes Road in Indian Land were opened June 19, all of them were about $500,000 higher than the anticipated $1.2 million cost.
“Everybody knows what’s going on in this area with the price of building anything. It’s a new day for construction, and everybody is busy. It’s not just us,” McGriff said.
Willis said the bid-request documents on the three projects will be finished in the upcoming days.
“The architect budgets are within estimates, and we’re going to bid for the projects,” Willis said, but no one knows if $8 million will be enough.
The new $3.1 million county animal shelter on Pageland Highway is also costing $500,000 more than expected. 
Part of $41M tax
In 2014, county voters approved a 1-cent capital sales tax to raise $41 million to pay for road improvements, a new emergency communications system, county library improvements and a forensics lab for the sheriff’s office. The 1-cent tax runs through 2021.
The $238,000 forensics lab is on hold for now. The biggest chunk of the capital sales tax is for $26 million in road improvements, and the communications system cost is $4.5 million.  
A total of  $8 million was set aside to pay for upgrades and/or expansion of the Main Library on South White Street, as well as the Del Webb Library on Charlotte Highway in Indian Land and the Kershaw Branch Library on Fork Hill Road.
Last October, county leaders started looking at the option of relocating the Kershaw library to the heart of downtown after Wells Fargo closed its bank branch at 101 N. Hampton St.
In March, County Council voted to pursue the possible purchase of the vacant Wells Fargo Bank branch for $80,000. 
Council voted 5-0 at its June 24 meeting to buy the vacant building.
Councilman Terry Graham was on vacation and in a somewhat unusual procedural move, Harper announced at the start of the meeting that he would abstain from all votes taken that night. With one council member absent, his abstentions eliminated the possibility of any matter ending in a tie vote.