SOMERSWORTH – City Council faces a decision Monday night on how to finance the rising cost of building the new fire hall.
The station is slated to replace the existing and obsolete 8,100 square foot fire hall, built in 1976, at 195 Maple Street.
The city originally authorized a $ 7.7 million bond to fund the fire station, but city officials now say the cost has since risen to $ 9 million. The city council must assess whether and how the project should unfold. It boils down to this: Should the project be delayed with any hopesconstruction costs are going down, or does the city have to find a way to finance them now?
This is not the first time that city officials have worried about the cost. In March, the fire hall construction committee sought to make cuts of nearly $ 500,000 to reduce the cost of the design by removing the formation tower and using more cost effective materials, lowering the cost of the project. at $ 6,490,977, according to city documents. Fourth month later, that estimation and realizing the cost savings is no longer part of the conversation.
Making up the difference of $ 1.3 million
In a special meeting on July 12, Councilor David Witham said rising construction costs have pushed up the price of a new station.
The city hopes to make up the $ 1.3 million difference with a combination of federal grants and municipal funds rather than adding the full amount to the amount of money it had planned to back up.
If city council used $ 240,000 of the fund balance for this project, $ 600,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds (for the costs of the ventilation system in the new station), the city could increase l ‘$ 460,000 surety authorization for a total surety authorization of $ 8.1 million.
“Without COVID-19 we wouldn’t see these cost overruns, but without COVID-19 we wouldn’t have these ARPA funds available,” Witham said at the meeting.
If the city increased the bond and added five years to pay it off, going from a 25-year bond to a 30-year repayment schedule, Mayor Dana Hilliard said he would reduce the estimated increase in the tax rate to 26 cents per $ 1,000 of property value from the original estimate of 27 cents.
The mayor says the project must come true
“Despite some people predicting costs could come down, construction experts made it clear to us that the price we were looking for before the pandemic was not coming back,” Hilliard said. “The project is long overdue and we must move forward. We cannot delay any longer.”
During the special meeting, Councilor Marty Pepin noted that “kicking this problem out” could be more costly than fixing it now. While Councilor Kenneth Vincent has argued for postponing the future, adding the five-year bond may lower the tax rate slightly, but it adds $ 2 million in interest.
“If we delay this project, we risk missing an opportunity to lessen the blow to taxpayers,” Hilliard said.
A public forum at the Monday evening council meeting will be held to allow residents to have their say on how the project should move forward.
“Our job as city councilors is to be good stewards of our resources and do the right thing for our constituents,” said City Councilor Crystal Paradis. “I hope residents will contact us directly or come and speak at the public hearing on Monday evening, so that we can hear them before we vote.”