Source: Sherman Publications

City favors high price addition

by Mary Keck

May 02, 2012

Despite budget concerns, Clarkston officials are moving forward with a construction project that’s more than 80 percent than originally estimated.

At the city council meeting on April 23, Jim Brueck submitted options for the Department of Public Works’ storage addition to city hall. The City unanimously voted to continue with a construction project with a price tag of $180,455, an increase from the original $100,000 estimate.

The newly accepted project offers a seven-year return. The City currently pays $25 to $30,000 annually to store equipment at 3 E. Church.

Brueck’s reasoning for the cost increase was, “we had estimated a size that just wasn’t big enough.” The original plans also didn’t include an oil and gas separator in the building’s floor.

The plans now on the table are for a stand-alone building with space for an office for DPW Director Bob Pursley, a dump truck, genie lift, two salters, a street sweeper, and other equipment. According to City Manager Dennis Ritter, the building should be constructed by September 2012.

During the meeting, Councilman Richard Bisio asked if an addition without electricity, heating or only partially enclosed was examined. Brueck answered the DPW had considered a Butler’s barn or a large carport. “They’re less expensive, but they become questionable as far as how they fit into the historic district,” he said. He also noted concerns about security if the equipment wasn’t enclosed.

In the wake of the projected $60,000 deficit in the 2013 budget and the lack of finances in the current budget for such an undertaking, the higher cost of the addition doesn’t sit well with some.

Former council member Cory Johnston said he was shocked when they chose to move forward with the construction project. “They’re adding more and more debt onto a budget that’s already in deficit,” he said and asked, “Why are we moving forward when we didn’t even have the $100,000” previously estimated? Johnston suggested, “In desperate times, they could move out of 3 E. Church and leave the trucks outside” to reduce costs.

From the council’s perspective, the money for the project won’t come from the budget. Instead, the city may finance it through an Oakland County bond, but “it’s not a done deal. We have a lot more information we need before we can go forward,” Ritter said.

Thus far, $10,000 has already been allocated for a bid package, but the final price tag for the project won’t be certain until the council votes on a proposal from a contractor. As for the budget deficit, Ritter thinks the $219,000 fund balance made up of the surpluses the city has accumulated over the years will cover it.

Now that Brueck has been told to move forward with the more expensive plan, he will return to the architect who will develop site drawings, which the council will consider at a later date.