Funding shortfall halts Walker Co. Library - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Funding shortfall halts Walker Co. Library

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The new Walker County library was slated to open this fall, but a budget shortfall has left the county unable to pay it's portion for the project.

Cherokee Regional Library System Director Lecia Eubanks said, "we looked ahead and saw there's not enough cash to go past this point and we're at that point."

At the construction site, there are boarded up windows and idle construction equipment. The LaFayette-Walker County Public Library was supposed to be complete this October.

All work as stopped, Eubanks says it's due to near $500,000 shortfall in the county's SPLOST program, "it's unfortunate that the county didn't set aside their commitment to the library at the beginning."

The county agreed to fund $1,000,000 cash and $500,000 in on site work. Walker County Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskal said it would not only be nearly impossible but un-fair to other projects to set aside that much SPLOST money so far in advance.

On top of that she says SPLOST in Walker County is as low as it's been since the economy bottomed out in 2008, "she has one project to do, I have about 500. I have to juggle the money the best we can. I'm sorry that no one can come up with enough money to fund that project. I can do it but I can't do it today."

Heiskal says if SPLOST can produce enough money before November the county would gladly finish the project. If not, the library will be put on November's SPLOST vote. If it passes the county would bond out the money and pay it back later.

Meaning the library could be open by March of 2014.

Eubanks said, "I do understand that the county is willing to do that. It's just unfortunate that it has to be spread over two SPLOST cycles. So we have a lot riding on it and we do hope it passes in November."

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