The controversial €5 million cost to build a new library in Portlaoise has gained councillors approval after management confirmed that it will not go ahead, unless double the cash is granted from the government.
The planning proposal to approve Part VIII planning for the state of the art library, came before the councillors at their monthly meeting on July 31.
Cllr Willie Aird asked why county hall was continuing to put planning in place for the three storey building, proposed to replace the old Shaws shop on Main Street.
“You’ve been told you’re not getting €5 million. I’m making it very clear we do not have €5m. I want to make sure the other strands of the local authority budget like housing, can’t be touched,” said Cllr Aird.
He asked what the €5m library would include, but was told it had already been on public display.
The Chief Executive John Mulholland repeated his promise made last May.
“I’ve said it a couple of times, there is no question of putting council finances at risk. We have applied for an additional €1.65m.
“That total €5m cost includes buying the site which we have already done. We are not going to proceed unless we get additional money from the Department,” he said.
“We have to get the plans in place, it’s nearly a catch 22, if they are not in place, we won’t get the balance,” Mr Mulholland said.
Cllr Aird then suggested building a smaller library for €3 million.
“Build whatever we can afford. Don’t leave it hanging, it’s been needed for ten years,” he said.
The councillors then approved Part VIII planning to allow for the library’s construction.
The library was initially priced at €3.2 million to construct, on top of the €465k Laois County Council paid to buy it from Shaws in 2013.
Rising construction were blamed for the higher price, announced last May.
The library would extend into the existing carpark, to 1,500sqm, with an exhibition area, study, IT section and a community meeting room.