(Prochaska & Associates)
At the regular meeting Monday night, the council heard a review from architects at Prochaska and Associates of Omaha, the company initially hired by the city to come up with a plan for a new fire station.
As the old school building has the potential of being listed on the historic registry, costs of refurbishing it were included in the presentation.
According to initial estimates, costs of renovating the school are slightly cheaper than building a new structure. But the combined construction costs of building a new fire station and new police station-city office building are lower than the combined costs of renovating the school and a new fire station, noted Mayor Dennis Berry.
Ultimately, voters would decide whether the buildings are constructed. If the council decides to move forward, a bond issue would be presented to voters at the November election, said City Manager Kurt Fritsch.
Jim Clancy and Steve Riley of Prochaska and Associates showed a PowerPoint presentation of preliminary costs and site plans for new buildings as well as renovation.
A new city fire station, at 13,500 square feet, would cost a total of $2,990,440. Cost of a new police station/city office building, at 15,000 square feet plus a partial basement, would come in at $3,460,210. Combined, both projects would total $6,068,270, a savings of $300,000 if the buildings were constructed at the same time, Clancy noted.
With the economy the way it is now, construction bids are coming in lower than usual as "everyone is looking for work," Clancy said. "If you can afford to do one of the projects, you'd never be able to do it cheaper than now."
Costs of renovating the school come to $3,379,133, about $81,000 less than constructing a new structure. This is due to selective rather than full demolition of the building -- only the inside would be gutted in the renovation, leaving the shell -- and lowered "soft costs," such as surveys, fees and furnishings.
The renovation includes an addition that encloses the front of the building and a garage in the back. The two-story structure would also have new windows, electrical and mechanical systems, an elevator and extra staircase.
The exterior of the building is fairly solid, Riley said, but the concern is the interior, due to extensive water damage. The same amount of space would be utilized for a new building or renovating the existing one, Clancy said and operating costs for both are nearly equivalent.
Councilman Mike Gonzales referred to the number of windows in the renovated structure and cited safety concerns in severe weather, especially for the dispatchers.
Clancy responded that at prior school renovations done in Omaha, shutters or lidded areas takes care of the problem.
Councilman Kircher asked about the difference between square footage at current city facilities and of the new buildings, "to compare what we have to what we're getting."
City Manager Kurt Fritsch replied that current buildings do not even meet city code.
"We have a dispatch center we cannot use today, let alone tomorrow," he added.
McCook City Fire Chief Marc Harpham said they currently have about 7,100 square feet. McCook City Police Chief Ike Brown said he did not have the number immediately available but that square footage for the new building was based on the jail study done in 2007, along with cost estimates from similarly-sized cities.
Councilman Kircher also commented on the extra "green space" at the site if the school was renovated. "It's nice on the eyes," he said, and could be used for another recreation area.
Kircher also briefly discussed how to fund the projects, whether short or long term, using city sales revenue against a bond.
As the city sales tax sunsets in seven years, a short-term bond would require $700,000 per year, Kircher estimated.
The city budget currently has $1 million set aside for a city-wide facility. Councilman Kircher stated that a short-term bond would leave less for road improvement and capital improvement projects.
City Manager Kurt Fritsch said a short-term bond is one way to look at it, to pay off the bond in a short period and not burden future generations with debt.
Half of the one-cent city sales tax, at $625,000, is used toward property tax relief. The other $625,000 is put toward street projects and other capital improvement needs.
The half-cent tax is divided between the city and the McCook Economic Development Corp. at $325,000 each.
"There's still a lot to discuss," Councilman Kircher said at the end of the presentation and Mayor Berry agreed, suggesting the possibility of town hall meetings for the public.