Porterville may finally have a library — at least a temporary library — a little sooner than expected.

But again in the new COVID world, the cost to complete the temporary library will likely be higher than expected.

At its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday the Porterville City Council will consider a bid to complete the remodeling of the temporary library to be located in a space adjacent to Grocery Outlet at 50 W. Olive Avenue, Unit B.

The city received two bids for the project which has been the case with several city projects in the new COVID world, were well above the projected cost. The projected cost of the project was $138,000.

The city received two bids from the project: $177,362 from Bakersfield's TMJ Construction and $208,760 from Lindsay's Pacific General Building Contractor.

The city has a policy not to consider bids that are more than 10 percent of the projected cost and TMJ's bid is 28.5 percent higher than the projected cost. The council could choose to rebid the project but as has been the case with other projects city staff stated about possibly receiving a more favorable bid:

Although the possibility exists that the city will receive favorable bids if re-advertised, the indicators in the current market suggest the chances of such are very small.”

City staff added the higher than projected cost is due to the increase in construction material costs in the last year that continue to rise steadily, especially for steel and wood. “Prices in the market are expected to continue to increase in the months to come and the risks with the pricing are making it more and more difficult to get bids from contractors,” city staff report.

Faced with this situation with past and pressing projects needed in the city, the council has approved a more costly bid every time.

City Manager John Lollis said the project isn't significant as in includes the remodeling of the inside of the space with includes a new circulation desk, leisure reading computer area, programming areas, an employee break room, network/electrical room and other features.

Lollis estimated the temporary library possibly couldn't be ready to be open until the first of the year. But the project should only take 30 to 60 days to complete. If the council awards the bid to TMJ Construction on Tuesday that means the temporary library could conceivably be open by November or even October.

More than an additional $35,000 will be needed for the project for construction management and other contingencies, bringing the total cost of the project to $212,834. Funding for the project will come from the city's insurance fund it received for the loss of the Porterville Public Library that was destroyed in the February 18, 2020 fire that killed Porterville Fire Captain Ray Figueroa and Firefighter Patrick Jones.

The temporary library will be used until a new library can be open and the process to open a new library will take years.

As far as the new library, the council will continue to review a needs assessment that was done for the new library as a scheduled matter during Tuesday's meeting. The council accepted the needs assessment at its August 17 meeting, but on the condition that it could continue to be reviewed and adjusted as the needs assessment is considered a working document.

The needs assessment was done by consultants Penny Hummel of Portland, Ore., and Carson Block of Colorado, who did the technology portion of the needs assessment.

One of the concerns expressed was the proposed size of the community room in the new library with a proposed capacity of 150 that can be divided into three rooms with a capacity of 50 each. The consensus is that wouldn't be big enough as the community room in the Porterville Public Library had been used virtually on a daily basis.

Also as part of its consent calendar, the council will consider allocating $9,000 for six staff to to accompany the Figueroa and Jones families to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation's official national tribute to all firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2020.

The event will be held in Emmitsburg, Md. in October. There will be 112 firefighters who died in 2020 who will be honored, including Figueroa and Jones.

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