Facility design contract gets OK

At its last meeting of the year, the City Council voted to spend $650,000 for the design of a new public safety facility.

The contract was awarded to Rochester-based LaBella Associates to design a public safety building on city-owned property behind City Hall that meets the city's $8 million cost restrictions.

The contract was awarded by a 3-to-2 vote, with Commissioner of Accounts John Franck and outgoing Commissioner of Public Works Thomas McTygue voting against.

Franck said he thought the $8 million bond limit could be reduced further. He also said he opposed the contract because if the next City Council doesn't accept the resulting plans, the city will have wasted taxpayers' money.

Franck said he was concerned that the proposals the city had considered were based on a $14 million budget for the building, when only $8 million is allocated in the recently passed, but highly contested 2008 budget.

Estimates of a new public safety facility have ranged from $12 million to $17 million, depending on size. A new, Republican-controlled, City Council must approve any expenditures associated with the project after they take office on the first of the year.

Fanck has noted that bonding for the project would require a four-fifths approval by the City Council, and, considering the change in dynamic of the council, he said he wasn't sure the vote would go through.

Commissioner of Finance Matthew McCabe, who presented the 2008 budget with the $8 million bond limit, said he was duty-bound to approve the contract.

By stopping this -- not letting it go forward -- I would not be doing my job, he said.

The $8 million for a new building has been built into the 2008 capital budget but not yet bonded; $500,000 for the first year's payment on that money is included in the 2008 debt service budget.

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