Aberdeen board approves new library designs

Strong sales tax numbers provide for good finance data

ABERDEEN – The Aberdeen Town Board met Monday, Nov. 27.‌

The board was first presented with some information from the monthly financial report.

“There were some really strong returns, especially with the sales tax side of things,” said Town Manager Paul Sabiston. “We’ve had some really strong sales tax returns the last couple of years and that has continued. We are a good bit ahead of schedule and that’s a good sign because that does provide us with additional revenues each year.

“Every year, we try to hit the number based on the prior year’s numbers, but really it’s growing almost exponentially here on the sales tax side. A lot of that is online shopping too. Once we started capturing that, the numbers really started to increase, so that trend continues and we’re just happy to see it.”

The board also approved the new Aberdeen Library design plan.

The town is renovating the old Wholesale Store facility in downtown Aberdeen to use as the Town’s new library.

“The next big step in this, is can we bid the project in portions that we have money already set aside for as opposed to bidding the whole thing for money we don’t have,” Sabiston said. “Because if we do that, the builder is going to say I want to start in 60 days which we aren’t going to be able to do. So we want to build it for money we have ready to move forward with. If we find a contractor that says, ‘Hey, I’ll work with you on this in stages,’ that’s a conversation to be had possibly. That remains to be seen, but we’re not deciding that tonight.”

While the town currently does not have all the funding necessary for the new library – they’ve committed only $200,000 to the project but it’s been projected that it will cost around $500,000 – the Friends of the Library group has stated that they need more concrete bid data in order to target larger grants.‌

“One of the reasons we need the full scope of the cost, even if it’s piecemeal to start with, is because we have been applying for large grants and when you’re going after $50,000-$100,000 plus, they want to see bids or the full scope of the cost,” said Tom Cruce of FOTL. “We’ve been hindered because we don’t have that data.”

According to Cruce, the next step for the FOTL following the approval will be to return to the architect and complete the discussions on the process and the timeline for the completion of construction drawings which he predicts could be completed as early as mid-February.

“During that wait time, we’d obviously keep moving forward with our fundraising activities and simultaneous to that, we’d work with town staff to ascertain what the process will be and determine how we will move forward with a general contractor,” Cruce said.

“We appreciate everything the Friends of the Library have done so far,” said Mayor Robbie Farrell. “I know it’s an uphill battle, but we’re looking forward to having a new library. 900 square feet isn’t working for a town of 10,000. Not anymore. … This design looks like something everyone can agree to.”

The board also approved a resolution to set a date of Dec. 11, 2023 for a public hearing on an annexation request for two parcels of land totalling approximately 103.23 acres. The properties are located east of US 15-501 HWY and south of Pee Dee Road and the request was submitted by Habitat for Humanity of the Sandhills.

The Aberdeen Town Board will next meet Dec. 11.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal

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