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Council approves city hall construction bid

Council sets to find enough money for metal roof

SOLON– The design is set for the new Solon City Hall.
Now the city just needs to find a way to pay for it.
At a July 2 meeting, the Solon City Council approved a bid from Garling Construction of Belle Plaine and Cedar Rapids for the building of the new city offices.
At last week’s July 17 session, the council members started gathering fund balances together to deal with about $120,000 in cost overruns for the fiscal year that ended June 30.
And to find about $17,000 for a metal roof.
The base price the city accepted from Garling– $622,500– included a number of alternates. The city saved $3,000 by going with a wood frame structure instead of insulated panels, but really wanted to keep the metal roof that was part of the original bid.
A shingled roof would save another $17,000, bringing the city closer to the $610,324 left in available financing.
But council members really wanted the metal roof if they could afford it.
“It just makes no sense not to,” council member Steve Stange said.
“I think the metal roof is the biggest thing for the future,” said member Mark Krall. “So there’s not all of a sudden in 10-15 years having to put in the expense of a roof. That’s the money-saver there.”
But doing so will tap out the budget for the new city offices, and that’s without contingency funds for change orders or any new furnishings.
Mayor Cami Rasmussen said as last week’s meeting a contingency fund of five-to-seven percent was being recommended, somewhere between $30-40,000.
Construction on the city hall is expected to begin in August, with the exterior done by Dec. 1, and substantial completion by May.
The city is in the process of purchasing the residential property adjacent to the city hall site with the intent of adding a parking lot, but that estimated $75,000 project is slated for a future budget year.
For now, the city is trying to find some extra change in the bottom of the couch cushions, not only to cover the moderate excess of the city office project, but to deal with added expense from the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
At the July 17 meeting, city administrator Cassandra Lippincott outlined the financial situation for the city.
Lippincott said the city still has some outstanding bills from the last fiscal year. The cost of the annual city audit, required annually now that the city has grown in size, still has to be paid, along with about $125,000 from the capital projects fund, which includes the Main Street reconstruction project, the extension of Racine Avenue, the addition of turn lanes for Highway 1 and a lighting project at the Solon Recreation and Nature Area.
There are some revenues to offset those bills, Lippincott said, leaving around $58,000 in red ink to wipe off the ledger.
Most of the difference, she said, came from the difference between approved costs and actual costs on the projects, much of it from the Racine Avenue project.
There is money available to wipe it out, but the city will need to decide which funds it would like to tap.
There was a general fund surplus of $110,000, there’s $13,000 available to be dedicated toward curb and gutter, about $70,000 in road use tax, and a hefty balance in the local option sales tax account.
“Out of necessity, the solution’s going to have to be a split between these,” Lippincott said. “No one funding source would totally cure our needs.”
Lippincott said if the city uses the curb and gutter funds and then divides the remaining needs between three other funds (general fund, road use, and LOST) each would take a hit of approximately $46,000.
Council member Stange felt all the projects could benefit from road use tax dollars. “These are all street projects,” he said. And the funding has mostly come from Tax Increment Finance (TIF) and local option sales tax (LOST) funding. “Though I’d like to save for the future, I think that it’s important that we pay our bills now,” he said.
Mayor Rasmussen agreed, but cautioned against siphoning off too much, especially with the upcoming reduction in commercial property taxes and possible change orders from the city hall project.
“These are several major projects we have undertaken in the last several years,” Rasmussen said. “We’re sitting in the financial situation that we hoped to be in. That we could have some surplus to help with the unexpecteds, and that’s exactly where we’re at.”