Search Our Catalog      Manage Your Account       Visit the library's Facebook page    Follow the library on Twitter
Plaistow Public Library
Plaistow Public Library
85 Main Street - Plaistow, NH 03865
Catalog Website:

Plaistow Public Library

Library Capital Reserve Fund Warrant Article

If you've reviewed the sample ballot for the 2019 Election (available here), you will see Article P-19-19 relating to the Library:
To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate $40,000 to be added to the existing Library Capital Reserve Fund previously established.

(Recommended by the Board of Selectmen, 4-0-1, and the Budget Committee, 9-0-0. This fund is in the Capital Improvement Program as approved by the Planning Board.)
Here are answers to a few questions that may have crossed your mind.

1./ What is a Capital Reserve Fund?

A Capital Reserve Fund is a planning and budgeting tool intended to stabilize yearly variations in funding for capital improvements. (Capital improvements are repairs, or other changes, to buildings that increase their useful life or enhance their overall value).

For example, if the life expectancy of a $50,000 roof is 20 years, the Town could deposit $2,500 into a Capital Reserve Fund each year. By doing this for each anticipated project, the Town can smooth out the annual capital requirements so that taxpayers face relatively constant budget requests each year, even while the capital expenditures themselves may vary greatly year-to-year.

2./ Why does the library need capital improvements? Isn’t the building still relatively new?

The town’s beautiful library opened for business in May 2000. Anyone familiar with construction knows that 20 years is about when you can expect to begin incurring significant maintenance and upgrade costs. Our building systems unfortunately are no exception to this rule.

In December 2014 we initiated a comprehensive building review, the result of which was a 31-page report by the Castagna Consulting Group of North Hampton. The results outlined in their Infrastructure Evaluation Study included:
  • An extensive assessment of all building systems, with supporting photographic evidence;
  • Recommendations and preliminary cost estimates;
  • Quotes from several contractors to validate cost estimates; and,
  • Capital cost projections through 2040.
Based on this study, the library has been updating its six-year Capital Improvement Plan each year, after taking into account recent changes in building operations, revised estimates, and so on.

3./ Who else is involved and provides oversight of the process for requesting capital funds?

Each year the library presents its Capital Improvement Plan to the town’s Capital Improvement Committee. The Committee reviews this plan and makes recommendations for changes before approving the plan and passing it onto the town’s Planning Board for similar review and approval. Finally, Warrant Article requests are always discussed by the Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee before they appear on the ballott. This year's request was unanimously approved, with one abstention.

4./ Doesn't the library already have a Capital Reserve Fund to pay for repairs and upgrades?

Yes, the voters approved the creation of a new Capital Reserve Fund for the library in 2016 and we have been actively using it to pay for vital repairs and upgrades, with the Board of Selectmen’s approval.

2018 Capital Reserve Fund Projects
1./ $20,500 for LED lighting upgrades (currently saving the library about $9,000 annually)
2./ $90,500 for fire suppression upgrades to address corroded pipes and leaks

Municipal planning experts advise to set aside 1.5 to 4% of capital replacement value per year to cover projected maintenance and repairs expenses. With a replacement cost of at least $3 million, $40,000 is 1.3% of capital replacement value. For many years there was no capital reserve fund and nothing was set aside for the library, so we’re now playing catch-up. There is a strong consensus among the Library Trustees, Board of Selectmen, Budget Committee, CIP Committee, and Planning Board that prudent planning is the best means of responsibly budgeting for projected expenses. 

5./ OK, so what specifically would the $40,000 be used for?

The capital projects planned for 2019 include repairs and crack-sealing of the library’s parking lot and walkways, and mandatory replacement of fire sprinkler heads after a manufacturer’s recall. Future planned projects include the replacement of fire suppression pumps and roof shingles.

Unspent funds will shore up the Capital Reserve Fund as we prepare to address needs in future years, as identified in the Castagna report and approved by the Town in its Capital Improvement Plan.

6./ What will happen if the Warrant Article does not pass?

The Library will have to delay replacements and repairs and hope that no major system fails.

Each year the Library budgets for small capital expenses. Projects funded by the Town's Capital Reserve Funds are larger, however -- at least $10,000, and often ranging into the mid-six figures. Replacing a failed boiler, for example, would cost at least $60,000. The Library has a lean budget which cannot absorb these larger expenses.

If a system does fail the Library will have to approach the Town for assistance. Finding funds for a major unbudgeted expense will likely present a signficant challenge, perhaps at the expense of other budgeted projects or services. In addition, costs may also be higher than they would have been otherwise as sudden failures often cause damage (water damage from a roof leak, for example).

7./ Anything else about how the Capital Reserve Fund process works?

The Board of Selectmen are the expending agents for the Fund. This means that capital reserve funds may be spent only with their approval, after the Library's Trustees have shown that the expense is necessary and that they have found the most cost-effective solution. Otherwise, those funds remain unspent and remain available for any future projects the Selectmen may choose to approve.

The Library Board of Trustees would appreciate your support for this Article on March 12.

Please don't hesitate to ask if the Library can provide any further information: