01 Jul 2022

Portlaoise Library cost doubles by millions reveals Laois Council report

The cost of the building of the new library in Portlaoise is likely to come in at more than double what was originally envisaged.
Figures released by Laois County Council show that the best current estimate of final costs is €6,473,449.

The Council bought the former Shaws shop in 2014. A 2015 preliminary estimate put the total cost run to just over €3m.

New costs prepared in 2016 /17 showed the price rising to €4.4 million. Another revision of costs was carried out in 2019 with the bill rising then to €5.2 m.

When the contract was awarded in 2019 the cost was €5.9 million. Fit out and books will cost €664k pushing the estimated bill now to nearly €6.5m in February 2022.

Laois County Council says the existing Portlaoise Library on Lyster Square was built in 1994 for the equivalent of €1 million.
That's according to a report released this week to Laois County Councillors which outlines the journey to an as yet incomplete new €6.4m facility on Main Street.

Built for a town of 8,360 people the local authority insists “it is clear” that the building is no longer suitable to keep pace with the town's growing population. It is also argued that the existing building cannot be expanded.

The council says the 2007/11 Library Development Plan identified the need for a new central library in Portlaoise with plans drafted at the time to redevelop the Granary / Odlum's Grain store on Fitzmaurice Place.

The council says the national library strategy requires buildings that are 'fit for purpose and reflect the quality of service being delivered'.

The report says that a €1.6m grant was secured from Government in 2015 to fund the building of a library. It was secured after estimates put a price of just over €3m on the project. The council bought the Shaws shop in 2014 with the intention of building a library on the site.

County Councillors gave management the green light to proceed in 2017 by way of a Part 8 agreement. Councillors were concerned at the time that more money would come from Government. But they gave the green light on the back of a €4.4 m price tag.

A further €1.3 m was ploughed in by the Government in 2018.

The council report says costs were revised again in 2018 to take account of construction price inflation, site investigations, asbestos removal and mandatory works.

The Department of Rural and Community Development gave the green light to go to tender of €5.2 million.

A further €2.3m of central Government funds was ploughed in from Government which the council says removed the need for the local authority to invest €2m of local funds.

The construction contract was agreed in August 2019 on another set of revised costs. This time the total bill had gone up to nearly €5.85 m.

The Department of Rural and Community Development approved the tender in November 2019 when the contractor was also appointed.

The next complication was the pandemic with the council saying that the site closed in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 public health restrictions. The local authority also explains that there were further delays due to contaminated soil and issues resulting from the nature of the site.

The report signed off by the council's Director of Finance Gerry Murphy sets out the 'best current estimate of final costs'. This includes payments to date.

So far some €1.4m has been paid out in construction related costs (exl VAT). A further €3.3m (excl VAT) will have to be paid. The total construction bill is estimated at nearly €4.7 million.

Nearly €324k (excl VAT) has been paid in design, tender assessment and supervision fees. Nearly €80k (excl VAT) has to be paid. Total bill is over €400k.

The total VAT bill is expected to be almost €725k.

The fit out and stocking of new books is estimated to cost €664k (excl VAT).

The Director of Finance has estimated on the back of all this spending a final bill of €6,473,449, which is 114% above the original price tag in 2014.


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