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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Council ponders building options, costs

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Plans under consideration by the McCook City Council include one which remodels the old West Ward school building.
(Prochaska & Associates)
The McCook City Council chewed over preliminary costs for a new city fire station and city police station-city office building at the West Ward site, as well as costs of renovating the existing school for a city facility.

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.

Another plan under consideration replaces the old West Ward building with a new structure. (Prochaska & Associates).
The council took no action but Mayor Berry and Councilman Aaron Kircher expressed their wish to consider the projects again at the next council meeting, along with discussing long- and short-term funding mechanisms to pay for the projects, such as using city sales tax revenue against a bond.

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.

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This should be a county wide facility as proposed by Red Willow County. For 40 years we have tried to get this City and County to work together. We are a county of less than 12,000 people. Our "City" is that in name only. We do not need a center for just City use! I am not against a new building as long as it is a multi-use City/County facility, as in jail & sherriff's office space with a combined dispatch center. Years ago, the county court was in the existing fire/police building & we didn't have to transport prisoners to initial hearings. What is wrong with that concept? When are we as tax payers going to put our mouth where our money is and INSIST that our two governmental units WORK TOGETHER! When the county proposed a building on the West ward site, the city did everything it could to sway the taxpayers against it. Now that the shoe is on the other foot and the city wants to build there, it's the best thing around. Who else is tired of these micky mouse tricks and inter-governmental back stabbings? I hope that they do have town hall meetings and we all show up! It is time to get the running of this show back into the taxpayers hands.

-- Posted by McCook Muse on Tue, Jan 5, 2010, at 5:41 PM

McCook Muse...you might want to gather some of your facts before you show up at a meeting in a tither about the two entities not getting along. If I remember correctly the proposed city/county building was going to be located somewhere by the Lazy L trailer court. Another comment; it takes two to tangle...city vs. county.

-- Posted by McCook Supporter on Tue, Jan 5, 2010, at 6:52 PM

Build now while prices are down due to the poor economy.....

As a business owner I wish I could take advantage of this for my own business. Newer equipment, trucks, facilties, etc instead of making due with what we have and repairing things on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, with the poor economy we have other things worry about, like shortfalls, health care, cap and trade....

Is the city of McCook not affected by any of this? There are no budget shortfalls in the state of Nebraska due to decreases in tax revenues?

Let's make sure we don't screw the workin man and the small businesses to much in order to save some money on a new fire station!

Also, on one hand it would be too bad to dispose of an old building with character like the west ward building. One the other hand, didn't we have to abbandone it for a new school becaus eit was costing us too much money and there was no hope for it? Just making sure we remeber the facts that were presented to us during three rounds of school bond voting I think it was.

And last, let's make sure, if this does happen, as many local contractors, builders, plumbers, electricians, etc get the work here as it will be our tax dollars building it.

Nothing infuriates me more than the city spending money out of town when it was the hard earned tax dollars from the citizens that generated the money. To send it out of town instead of returning to the the owners for their hard work is nothing less than a slap in the face and more people need to realize that.

-- Posted by Justin76 on Tue, Jan 5, 2010, at 11:32 PM

The city/county facility has been tossed to the voters before. The city voters came the closest to approving the plan of a joint facility but it went down by nearly 15 points and the county voters rejected it by an even greater margin. I would also like the city to spend the tax dollars by getting goods and services within the city but I also want them to get those same goods and services at the least expense and when the locals bids are much higher it is not wise to go with them and spend more to get the same goods and services. That is not smart or legal. As to new vs. remodel we need to remember the school said no to remodel, the county looked at the building also, and two independent investors could not make a remodel cash flow. Think East Ward. New would be the logical choice.

-- Posted by dennis on Wed, Jan 6, 2010, at 7:57 AM

there is very little that is legal in reguards to what the state and feds do with our tax dollars and how they collect it. To say you must go with a low bid because it is legal is assinine because ANYONE can lowball a job. And what does it "cost" the city tax payer to have 10's or 100's of thousands of dollars sucked out of our local economy, never to be paid to a local vendor, worker, or tax during another transactionin this community ever again for city tax revenues?

Don't tell me that saving a few bucks on an initial build is going to save the tax payers money, that is bull. Maybe we should start requiring city boards and offials to have business degrees or own businesses. I have never seen such an anit business climate in this coutry as right now. Business is what makes this country go round and round. It's what builds these nice public safety centers and what not. If you keep sucking money out of our local economy there won't be any people to keep safe anymore.

If the federal admin keeps sucking the life from businesses everywhere you'll have Afghanistan. We need more business, not more government.

-- Posted by Justin76 on Wed, Jan 6, 2010, at 12:27 PM

I am certain that I have my facts straight, while the county did look at trading around to have the School land off of Q street, they also had a purchase agreement in process for West Ward before it was sold to the loser that let it sit as an unkempt eyesore, while trying to make a killing on selling it to someone else who was....oh yes, now I remember...to the City of McCook. In addition, for those who don't know these facts, the school system would have given (ie: $ 1.00) either the east ward building or the west ward building to the county or the city had they asked for them because of all the entities, the school board had the attitude that taxpayers had paid for the buildings originally and therefore taxpayers in the form of city or county governments should not have to pay for them again. To further review those chain of events, our present Fire Chief was one of the most outspoken about not using West Ward due to it's close proximity to the railroad....as if East Ward was that much farther north. If you should happen to think that I am not a McCook Supporter, my educated guess is that with all the volunteer service I have given to this community both governmental and a personal arenas, you would be hard pressed to find someone who has supported this community more. However, that still just makes my opinion, my opinion and not worth any more or less than yours. Facts, however, are facts no matter how you twist them around.

-- Posted by McCook Muse on Thu, Jan 7, 2010, at 5:31 PM

If all the people put their agressions aside, we could have a fine facility that would house both city and county. Nothing wrong with that. At least they wouldn't be all over the city in different buildings and be in one. Less expense for utilites, etc.

Use local labor for this. I agree that some of the work to be done would have to come from out of town, but most of the labor would be locally used. Sure, there have been mistakes made on this project. So let's all work together, get this on the road, and get it done. Take the easiest way and do it. Then all the arguing would end and everyone will have what they want or close to it.

-- Posted by edbru on Thu, Jan 7, 2010, at 6:21 PM

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