Discussion of combined municipal building continues

Published 10:02 am Friday, December 15, 2017

Windsor Town Council member Walter Bernacki may not have been far off the mark when he suggested in November that the town could construct a combined municipal building, library and community center on its vacant lot off of Shirley Drive for around $8 million.

Town Manager Michael Stallings presented the council with his own estimate during the Town Council’s December meeting on Tuesday as to what it would cost to combine the three facilities while scaling back the renovations planned for the former Windsor Middle School gym. Taking into account the square footage needs of each of the three currently separate planned facilities, Stallings estimated that the cost to build one combined facility would be about $6 million.

This figure assumes that some components, such as bathrooms and an HVAC system, could be shared among the various functions housed within the new building, Stallings clarified, and that the renovation of the former Windsor Middle School gym could be reduced in scope from its current estimate of $1,011,000 to $629,000. This reduction would be accomplished by having the gym be solely a recreation center rather than a combined recreation center and meeting space.

However, Stallings’ estimate for the combined municipal building, library and town center does not include any soft costs, such as hiring architects design the proposed combined facility or storm water management.

Per the council’s direction, Stallings also reached out to Davenport and Company and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, both of which offer financing for municipal government projects. Based on the USDA’s current bond rating of 3.5 percent over a 30-year period, Stallings estimated that the town’s annual cost to finance the proposed combined facility would be around $330,500, assuming all $6 million of his initial estimate was borrowed.

Bernacki took Stallings’ estimates as further proof that the council should address the town’s space needs sooner than later.

“Are we going to be like other town councils and the federal government and keep kicking the can down the road, where in 10 years it will cost twice as much?” he asked.

However, not every council member was sold on the idea that borrowing money was the right way to go. Councilwoman Patty Flemming said she knew that the town had been saving between $100,000 to $200,000, but didn’t believe that the town could afford annual payments of $330,500.

“I’m confident we have the $1 million in the budget to get this gym done,” she said. “But this, I have no confidence in this interest rate staying the same [by the time the town borrows money.]”

Stallings also announced that a public information meeting to discuss progress on the current, separate Town Center, formerly the WMS gym, has been rescheduled for Thursday, Jan. 11. It had previously been scheduled for Jan. 16. Requests for bids for the current renovation plans will go out on Jan. 7 and the town expects to receive bids by Feb. 6. A discussion on whether to move forward with any of the bids received has been scheduled for the Tuesday, Feb. 13 council meeting.

In other business, the council presented representatives of Windsor Boy Scout Troop 41 with a copy of its resolution passed in October honoring the troop for its 50th anniversary, and voted unanimously to give a $200 Christmas bonus to each of the town’s full-time employees who have been with the town for at least 12 months.

Full-time employees who started mid-year will have their bonuses prorated based on when they started. The council concluded by going into closed session to conduct personnel evaluations.