Library Board OK’s Solar Compressor Assist: Total Solar on Hold


The Library Board met Tuesday evening for their regular monthly meeting. One of their first actions was to move a total of $700,000 from the Operating Fund, splitting it between the Equipment and Building Replacement Reserve  ($400,000) and the Catastrophic Fund ($300,000). This will result in a balance of $841,000 in the Equipment Reserves and $642,000 in the Catastrophic Fund.


Solar Chiller Assist

The board also agreed to expand their solar footprint by purchasing a SolarChill Thermodynamic System to partner with the library’s existing air-cooled chillers. The company replacing the two chiller coils brought a proposal to the library to provide the SolarChill equipment for a six-month trial before evaluation of the cost savings and determination of whether to keep the unit. The system is designed to increase the existing compressor’s capacity and reduce its workload. Initial cost is $20,578 installed and the system is expected to save the library $7,779/year in power costs for a 2 1/2 year payback when using power costs for the compressors. The equipment has a 10-year guarantee with an expected lifespan of over 20 years.

Board Attorney Anne Dalton asked whether the library had used a bid process for the work and Library Director Dr. Leroy Hommerding responded that they “go out every year to get bids.” He also indicated that the other company was not interested in this project. The board agreed to proceed with the project.


Total Solar On Hold

Dalton reported that after the board authorized her and Dr. Hommerding last month to explore the competitive negotiation (CN) process for the proposed solar project, she had obtained a set of CN documents that would need to be modified when the project was ready to move forward. In the process, she explained that she had spoken to Bonita Springs City Attorney Audrey Vance about the solar energy/thermal hot water system project that city has at their Rec Center. The Bonita Springs project was funded through a 2010 grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

She also noted that she had spoken to John Gucciardo, who was the Special Projects Coordinator for Bonita Springs at the time of the project. He is now a freelance consultant living on Fort Myers Beach and has a “wealth of boots-on-the-ground information on the subject.” Dalton suggested the board consider speaking with him about serving as a consultant for the library’s project.

Dr. Hommerding then told the board that he now wants to wait a bit longer before proceeding with the solar project.

“The technology still has a way to go and I think waiting another year will benefit us. There’s so much that seems to be in a beta stage right now…I think the solar component with the chiller will bring down the need for solar to just trees also.”


TRIM Rate Set

The board then turned its sights on setting the Truth in Millage (TRIM) rate.

Library Director Dr. Leroy Hommerding reminded the board that two years ago, the board adopted the roll back rate (the rate that would bring in the same amount of money as the previous year). Last year the library set a tax rate below the rollback rate. He recommended that for the 2016-2017 year, the board set the TRIM rate at the same rate as the 2016-2017 budget year, 0.3499 and the board unanimously agreed. The TRIM rate would result in an increase of approximately $88,500 over the current year’s $1,155,380 tax revenues.

The library board can lower that rate at their September Budget Hearings but cannot raise it. The first hearing is scheduled for September 12, 2016 at 5pm, with the second one tentative set for September 27 at 5:30pm.

During the Director’s Report, Hommerding shared his experiences at the American Library Association meeting in Orlando earlier this year. He also reported that a recent appraisal of the library building came in at $8,102,800. Donations in June and July totaled $1781.80. Usage of the library reflects the slower summer months with 1403 Internet users, 909 Wi-Fi users and 78 new patrons for the month of June.

The next Library Board Meeting will be September 27, 2016 at 6:30pm. The final Budget Hearing is expected to be held at 5:30pm prior to the board meeting.


Missy Layfield