Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Jacked-up library costing taxpayers a half-million dollars in equipment rentals

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BATON ROUGE - The WBRZ Investigative Unit has learned the library downtown is costing taxpayers $11,594 per week for the supports that are in place to hold it up. 

In April, two major support trusses failed as the River Center Library was under construction. Four massive hydraulic jacks were rented and put in place to prevent the structure from falling down. 

For 48 weeks, the city says taxpayers will pay $559,990 for the jacks to remain.

On Monday, lunch crowds gathered at North Boulevard Town Square looking at the building in awe. When asked if onlookers would go into the library when construction is complete, reactions were mixed.

"No, no," a woman named Gwen told WBRZ. "I won't even go under it."

She believes it's not right for taxpayers to have to pay for the mistakes.

"The money could have been better used elsewhere," Gwen said.

The city-parish declined to do an on-camera interview because of pending litigation. However, a spokeswoman told WBRZ scaffolding was just installed around the structure last week and work to resume construction will begin any day now.

Last month, the Metro Council voted to foot the bill to complete the work at a cost of $2.7 million so the building doesn't sit as an eyesore. Since the trusses failed, the blame game has been in full-swing among the city-parish, architects and engineers. 

Some people are even questioning why a new library was needed.

"A library is a waste of money," David Stewart said. "It's outdated."

Another man thinks there was nothing wrong with the old library.

"The library that used to be here was fine," Frank Ester said.

Ester was a little more forgiving and believes the city-parish is doing the right thing by getting the jacked-up library fixed now.

"If you get it done, the cost will be more minimal now than fighting another year and continuing to pay anyway," Ester said.

The $2.7 million needed to fix the library is about a million more than the original estimate to fix it. The city-parish said once it's fixed, there won't be a need for support columns under the cantilever section that is currently being supported by the jacks now.


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