The Hopkins County-Madisonville Public Library is scrambling to come up with nearly $100,000 to settle a violation of the Kentucky prevailing wage law.
Library board president Carolyn Ferrell said the board misunderstood the prevailing wage requirements at the beginning of construction on what the board hopes to be a permanent home for the library.
“We were not using any public funds, we were using all private donations,” Ferrell said. “We interpreted that to mean it wasn’t a public works project, and we were wrong. The Labor Cabinet investigated and said no, it is a public works project no matter where the money is coming from.”
Ferrell said the board has reached out to try to negotiate with the Labor Cabinet over the $97,000 penalty, but those attempts have gone unanswered.
“The letter from the Labor Cabinet said to cut a check to them immediately,” Ferrell said. “We had a meeting – a called meeting – to discuss our options, because we don’t have that money.”
Meanwhile, Labor Cabinet spokesman Daniel Lowry said the cabinet is willing to work with the board on payment, and they want to make it as “easy as possible” for the library.
The library currently has about $28,000 of the needed $97,000, through its non-profit foundation. The total cost of construction thus far has been nearly $300,000. The threshold for construction projects to begin paying prevailing wages is $250,000.
Ferrell said construction is about 75 percent complete. Ferrell said once work has been restarted, it should take about 3 months to complete the library. Work won't resume until the library has resolved the issue with the Labor Cabinet.