Baldwin City Council considering citizen survey on CIP needs
The Baldwin City Council will consider surveying city residents about their views on proposed capital improvement projects and the cost to city taxpayers and utility customers.
Discussion of a possible survey came after an architect presented the council with three options for a new police station, and the city’s financial consultant gave some primary information on how that facility and others being considered could be paid for and what they would cost city residents.
The CIP projects discussed were new headquarters for the Baldwin City Police Department, renovations to City Hall, a new public works headquarters and the Lumberyard Arts Center theater.
In his presentation, Lawrence architect Jay Zimmerschied focused on a new police station to replace current headquarters in City Hall. It was the No. 1 identified need on the five-year capital improvement plan the council approved in February 2014. Among other shortcomings, the current 1,500-square-foot station is crowded, has no storage, offers no privacy for interrogations and provides department personnel no safety buffers from those entering the building.
Zimmerschied interviewed police department personnel about their needs and studied the police headquarters of 20 other Kansas cities to develop two estimates of the amount of space needed. He found the average size of those police stations was 7,287 square feet, which was very close to the 7,458-square-foot average he developed from interviews with police department personnel on their ideal needs.
The three options Zimmerschied shared to address those needs were:
l Construction of a new 7,829-square-foot police headquarters just south of the Baldwin City Public Library where the old brick storage building now stands. Zimmerschied estimated total project costs for such a building would be $2.4 million.
l Erection of a cheaper metal span building of equal size at the same site south of the library. Total project costs for that structure would be $1.6 million.
l Enlarging the police station in combination with City Hall renovations, which would provide the department with 6,074 square feet. The plan would build a new wing on City Hall at the site of the current police station. The option would relocate the police department’s operational functions to the space the American Legion now rents and the department’s administrative offices moved to the new wing’s second floor. The option also would make renovations for city offices and add an elevator to access the building’s second floor. Zimmerschied estimated the total cost for the project would be $2 million.
Zimmerschied said the advantages of option 1 were that it addressed all the police department’s concerns, would erect an energy-efficient building that would be around for a century, keep the department downtown and provide for 30 years of departmental growth. The disadvantage was its cost.
Option 2 shared those same advantages except the structure’s life expectancy and energy efficiency. Zimmerschied said metal span buildings with metal roofs are not as energy efficient and last about 50 years, adding he wouldn’t recommend their use for such essential public buildings.
The advantage of the third option was that it addressed ADA concerns at City Hall and city office needs. However, the physical separation of the police department’s operational and administrative functions were not ideal and not popular with the department. The chief concern was that the option didn’t provide the space needed now, much less the future. Zimmerschied predicted the city would be looking to build a police station again in about 15 years if that option was selected.
Tom Kaleko, the city’s financial consultant, gave the council perspective on what those cost estimates could mean for city residents asked to pay for them. In doing so, Kaleko said he assumed a public building commission would be created to finance the projects and that they would be financed with 20-year bonds. He also assumed a 2-percent annual increase in the city’s assessed valuation and 1.5-percent annual increase in sales tax revenue. He used cost estimates for the projects of $1.8 million for the police station, $2.5 million for the public works building, $1 million for the Lumberyard theater, $500,000 for City Hall renovation and $500,000 for the public works headquarters.
If financed solely with a property tax, the police station would require a 4.17 mills in debt service in 2017, Kaleko estimated. That would decrease to 2.79 mills in the final year of the 20-year bond. The Lumberyard theater financed only with property taxes would increase the city’s mill levy 2.33 mills in 2016. The mill levy requirement would decrease to 1.68 mills in 20 years. The City Hall renovations would increase the mill levy by 1.16 mills its first year and decrease to .79 mills in the 20th year of the bond, Kaleko estimated.
Should the city use a quarter-cent sales tax to finance the station, the 20-year bond would be paid off before 20 years, Kaleko said. A future council would have the choice of using the encumbered sales tax revenue for property tax relief, other projects or rescinding the added sales tax.
Debt on the public works headquarters would be mostly paid off through utilities rates, Kaleko said. It was assumed electrical department revenue would provide 48 percent of the debt-retirement revenue, wastewater and water departments would provide 22 percent each and the city general fund the remaining 8 percent, Kaleko said.
An ongoing study of wastewater and water rates would include those departments’ financial contributions to the new headquarters, City Administrator Chris Lowe said.
A 3/4-cent sales tax increase would provide enough revenue to pay for all the projects, Kaleko said. City residents would have to approve any sales tax increase through a referendum, he said. Should the council decide to go that route, he suggest it commission a scientific survey to learn what the Baldwin City residents would support.
Council members found a survey appealing. In response to a question of when it should be conducted, Lowe suggested it be done before the city started its educational efforts on the CIP improvements. He told the council to expect the staff’s updated five-year proposal in its next council packet.
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