Thousands turn into Millions as City Hall Project Grows

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What started out as a Sub $100,000 repair project to replace a leaking roof at City Hall has turned into a $2.5 Million, and growing, frame up remodel and expansion.

In 2010, the City planned to spend $80,000 to reroof City Hall, and, when funds allowed $200,000 for painting, new windows and doors, and electrical work.

In July 2010, plans to enclose the breezeway between City Hall and the Multi-Purpose room were presented. The cost to do this and build a records room and new office was estimated at $150,000.

In August 2011, the City spent $20,000, using funds budgeted for reroofing, for a consultant to study what the facility needed

At a January 2012 meeting on long term capital projects, the consultantÅ´œs recommendations (page 13 on in link) were presented. They recommended $213,000 in immediate repairs to City Hall buildings, $311,000 in short term needs, and an additional $505,000 to be spent over 10 years.

At their September 2012 meeting, the Council voted to reroof City Hall and address the immediate needs identified in the study.

In December 2012, without the roofing work done, the City Manager presented a report to the Council that identified areas of greatest concern with City Hall buildings including code violations and lack of fire sprinklers.

The report offered three options.

1. Demolish existing buildings and replace with modulars - $913,000

2. Identified as the best option was to demolish and replace with a new building - $1.96 million

3. Frame up renovate existing buildings - $1.3 Million.

The Council chose to renovate the existing buildings.

An option proposed by a volunteer resident committee to lease office space in La Habra for $2400 per month was not considered.

At their February 2013 meeting, the Council was presented with three options for frame up renovation.

1. Same building footprint of 5250 square feet - $1.6M

2. Expand to 6500 square feet - $1.99M

3. Expand to 800 square feet - $2.45M

Councilmember Westerhoff said that the City didnÅ´œt really have as much reserves as claimed and could face disincorporation.

The Council chose option 2 by a 3-2 vote with Francis and Westerhoff voting No.

Though the remodel cost chosen was near to, or exceeding, what had been quoted in December for an entirely new building, no consideration was given comparing the cost of a new facility.

Funds were budgeted and architect contracted to tie the hands of the next council to prevent reversing the project without great cost to the City.

On April 30th, a walkthrough for contractors occurred to review the scope of work to be done. The public was explicitly excluded from attending.

At June 13th meeting the Council voted to expand the project to include the Multi-Purpose Room.

Fire sprinklers, originally included in the project, had been removed to save costs. At a special June 27th meeting, the Council voted, Francis opposed, to keep sprinklers out.

The Council voted to put the project out to bid on July 11th.

After initially denying the project needed to go through an application and planning approval, as it would for any other resident or similar project, the City brought the project to the Planning Commission on August 27th, after it had been approved by the Council, had gone out to bid, and the bids were opened.

The Commission approved the project with little discussion in spite of resident concerns of Code and CEQA violations, and ability of the City to pay for the project.

The afternoon of September 12th, an appeal was filed challenging the approval.

At the September 12th Council meeting, the Council awardedξ the bid for $1.9 Million, not including 12% architect fees, contingency, furniture & equipment, project oversight and temporary City Hall quarters. Total cost expected at $2.5 Million, not including unforeseen work, or additions.

The City awaits final resolution of the Lawsuit to determine if the spending project will require a vote of the taxpayers before it proceeds.