The Cassville City Council approved preliminary cost estimates for a proposed renovation project that will make room for the Cassville Police Department at City Hall.
Aldermen voted to accept costs of $391,577 for the project that will ultimately renovate 4,064 square feet of space at City Hall, including 1,271 square feet of new floor area.
Architect Richard Werner drew up the preliminary floor plans, which council members accepted at their Feb. 5 meeting. The plan includes creation of a large multipurpose room with an attached kitchen area that could be used for community meetings and in-service training sessions.
The city's old fire truck bays will be converted into four offices for police officers and the police chief. The space would also include an evidence room, a police storage area, an emergency management room, a file storage room and an attached garage for housing two police cars.
A larger office for the Missouri State Highway Patrol is also included in the plan. Cassville Police Chief Lonnie McCullough said it is beneficial to the city to have Patrol officers working out of City Hall.
When the remodeling is complete, the police department will move from its existing location at the corner of Townsend and Eighth Street to its new space in City Hall. The new department will be twice the size of the current facility.
The city plans to sell the old police department building to offset costs of the renovation project. The existing building will be put up for sale as soon as the project is approved with occupancy to occur once the City Hall renovation project is completed.
Initial cost estimates predict that construction costs will total around $277,323, which equates to around $68.24 a square foot. Other costs associated with the project are expected to be as follows: breakroom, $1,529; office equipment, $19,672; office furnishings, $40,265; professional fees, $17,280; and technical infrastructure, $35,509.
The cost analysis for the project was prepared by City Finance Officer Darelyn Cooper, who told the council that she was very conservative in estimating costs and fully expected that the final price tag for the project would come in lower than anticipated.
Cooper, who was praised by the city council for her financial expertise, said her analysis revealed that adequate funding for the project was available through the city's general fund based on current revenue and budget projections. She also informed the council that the project would not impact the city's designated fund contingency reserves of $500,000 in the general fund and water and sewer fund.
"My goal is not to spend every last penny in the general fund to complete this project," said City Administrator Mike Hayslip. "It's important to remember the many benefits of this project. I've heard nothing negative about this project."
Some of the benefits pointed out by Hayslip included centralizing government operations, doubling the size of the police department and improving security at City Hall.
Police Chief McCullough added that moving the police department to City Hall would also be more convenient for city residents.
"The police department will be able to serve the public better in the new facility," said McCullough.
After reviewing cost projections, the council voted to approve the bottom line figure and allow Hayslip to seek bids on the smaller ticket items. Alderman Pete Landstad asked for a breakdown of equipment to be purchased and a monthly financial report as the project progresses.
The council will review construction bids and award that contract.
In addition to discussing the City Hall renovation project, the council spent time talking about the Sherwood Forest water and sewer project with Darrell Ledenham, a property owner and member of the Sherwood Forest Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) Committee.
Ledenham approached the council about providing him with a copy of Department of Natural Resources' involvement in the project and with information about denial of a grant application associated with the project.
After Ledenham asked for the information, Landstad questioned Ledenham about his motives.
"Where are you going with this and what do you want?" Landstad asked.
Ledenham replied that he didn't believe the residents of Sherwood Forest were treated right by the city.
"I'd like the city to take some culpability," Ledenham said. "I feel bad that I sat on the city council for a number of years when there were two failed attempts to annex Sherwood Forest. Then I moved out there . . . I assured them this (annexation) was a good thing and told them we need to do it.
"Somewhere the whole ball was dropped, and I don't know who's at fault," said Ledenham.
Ledenham also commented on errors made by engineer Kevin Sprenkle that ultimately cost city taxpayers around $55,000.
"The City Council ate that $55,000 error, and if the city had $55,000 to spend, I think they should have given it to the residents of Sherwood Forest who paid double water rates for 40 years and paid for their own water line repairs," Ledenham said.
Mayor Jim Craig explained that the error made by Sprenkle fell within a contingency for error built into his contract with the city.
Ledenham also informed the council that residents of Sherwood Forest had not been advised of what the project will cost each property owner. Hayslip explained that all information had been turned over to bond counsel and work was underway to finalize the numbers.
Landstad asked Leden-ham if he wanted an apology or if he wanted the city to pay for the whole project.
"I don't think an apology is needed," said Landstad. "I think we worked in good faith."
Craig said he was willing to personally accept the criticism.
"Our intentions were 100 percent good," said Craig. "The bottom line is I believe the city and some of the citizens there felt there was an identifiable need, and I believe we're all better off for fixing it.
"Could we have executed it better? Yes," said Craig. "If we made you look bad amongst your friends and neighbors, I apologize for that. That was never my intention."
In other business, the council:
Passed a resolution appointing Dale Burke to serve another two-year term as Cassville municipal judge. Burke's term will run through April 6, 2009.
Voted to pay bills totalling $55,105.17.
Approved an ordinance setting the residential water meter deposit at $75 and the business water meter deposit at $40.
Passed a resolution accepting field drilling services for the Southern Hills sewer expansion project. The city will pay Palmerton & Parrish, Inc., $5,313.30 to drill 41 probe borings to test for solid rock at all manhole locations. According to Hayslip, this process should help the city get more accurate project bids.