New Appleton library faces delay after bids come in over budget

The mayor says he'll advise the city council to reject all the bids, which would put the new library $14 million over budget
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 3:54 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2022 at 5:58 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Inflation is having an impact on the Appleton library project, where bids for construction came back at $14 million over budget.

Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Jake Woodford said he will recommend that the city council rejects all of the bids for the project, to prevent taxpayers from picking up the additional costs.

”There’s just so much volatility in construction pricing right now. We see that across the country and even in local projects. The difference for us here in Appleton is we’re not just going to pass that on to our taxpayers. We really feel we need to hold the line on this project and make sure we’re getting responsible bids,” Woodford said.

Woodford said the project team will attempt to rework the design and scope of the new library to stay within a $40 million budget. Once that’s done, the city will accept bids for construction again, early next year.

“In previous cost-cutting exercises, what we try to do is minimize the impact on the scope of the project -- that is, the spaces in the building, the aesthetics of the building. This time we might have to do some things to adjust the overall footprint of the building and size of some of the spaces,” Mayor Woodford said.

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Already moved to early 2024, a new round of contractor bids could push it back another 6 months

This is the second time the city has faced additional costs for construction because of inflation and had to make cuts in the design. There is also no guarantee the bids will come back any lower in January.

Back in April, library operations were moved to a temporary site, into a former Best Buy store on S. Kensington Dr., for the duration of construction. That limited some of the services the library would normally offer.

The new library was supposed to open in early 2024. We’re told that delaying the bidding process will push everything back at least another six months.

“Of course, it’s necessarily going to push us back, but you know as a city we have to maintain our commitment to doing things the right way, and sometimes that means we have to slow down, we have to take a step back, and that’s exactly what we’re doing now,” the mayor said.

Bids were $14 million more than the city was planning, likely delaying the project