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Questions about the new central library’s cost and funding plan?

September 2020

You might be hearing conversations in the community about the new central library and how much it will cost taxpayers. As with any project of this magnitude, we appreciate there is a high expectation of transparency, something we have been and remain committed to. We firmly believe the new central library is an investment that will benefit the community for generations to come.


Funding Plan

The funding plan (saving) for this project began in 2009, providing an affordable path to a new central library, even in these challenging times. The library is an independent taxing authority, as reflected in the Library Levy, separate from the City of Saskatoon municipal property taxes.

Since 2009 there have been scheduled incremental increases to the library levy to save money in a capital reserve for the project. In that time, $32 million has been saved for the new central library, accounting for 24% of the full project needs. Future scheduled increases to the levy are $645,000 in the years 2021-2024; and $200,000 in 2025 and 2026. This schedule fully funds the new central library project, including debt repayment and increases to operating costs once the library is open, which means there are no additional increases related to the new central library project beyond 2026.

Based on the capital reserve contribution schedule (funded by the library levy), the average homeowner (with an assessed home of $371,000) will see the following increases related to this project:

2021: $4.66 or $0.39/month

2022: $4.84 or $0.40/month

2023: $4.91 or $0.41/month

2024: $4.91 or $0.41/month

2025: $1.58 or $0.13/month

2026: $1.57 or $0.13/month

In 2019 the total library levy for the same homeowner was $192.59. In 2020, the library levy increase was 3.75%, which translated to a $7.22 increase for a total of $199.81. Of the 2020 increase, $4.93 was for the increase to the new central library reserve.

 

Budget

The project budget is $134 million. The total project budget crosses multiple budget years, $132.7 million in 2019 and $1.3 million in prior years.

The budget includes all project costs:

Land$   9,000,000
Professional Services & Consultants$   12,600,000
Construction & Site Preparation$   73,300,000
Furniture & Equipment$   9,600,000
Permits, Fees & Other$   1,300,000
Public Art & Public Engagement$   1,300,000
Insurance$   500,000
Escalation Allowance (Inflation)$   3,000,000
Tax$   7,000,000
Contingency$   16,400,000

 

Funding Sources

  • $67.5 million in borrowing from the City of Saskatoon
  • $46.3 million from the library’s capital reserves (these are the savings put away since 2009)
  • $4.6 million in proceeds from the sale of the current central library site
  • $15 million in gifts from the Saskatoon community


Economic Benefit

In the new central library business case, the economic impact assessment estimates the construction of a new central library will contribute approximately $132 million to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) and create 1,043 full-time equivalent jobs in Canada over three years. Nearly 70% of this economic benefit will occur in Saskatchewan. Once open, the new central library will produce over $15 million annually in GDP. These added jobs and GDP will be incredibly important to the community as we recover from the economic fallout of COVID-19.

In addition to a positive economic impact, the new central library will also contribute to the health and well-being of the community. Public libraries are needed now more than ever because they provide equal access to everyone, regardless of age, income, abilities, or other barriers. By helping bridge the digital divide and providing important educational materials, programs and services, public libraries strengthen communities.