PENINSULA : Library Renovation Faces Cost Overruns

Renovations for the library district's flagship library may run about $694,000 over budget, according to a recent report.

The total cost of renovating the Peninsula Center Library in Rolling Hills Estates, originally budgeted at just over $17.5 million, is now about $18.2 million.

"It's a fantastic building," said John Dixon, a peninsula activist. "But it cost a hell of a lot more than it should have."

The overruns are blamed on unanticipated costs in construction, architecture and soils testing.

Nancy Mahr, the library district spokeswoman, said trustees probably will pay for the overruns with money from the gift fund or asset replacement fund.

Mahr said the $400,000 in the gift fund is left over from past projects and has not been set aside for specific projects. She said the $900,000 in the asset-replacement fund is generally allocated for items such as air conditioners, computers and laminating machines.

But Mahr said a new computer system and air conditioners are already part of the library renovations. Money in the asset-replacement fund has not yet been allocated.

Facing public outcry and decreased property tax revenues, the library district voted last year to cut the Peninsula Center Library's $1.25-million furniture budget by about $336,000. Criticism had focused on costs that residents called exorbitant, such as $343 trash cans and $274,000 worth of artwork.

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