Troutdale asks voters to pay for City Hall restoration
Troutdale City Council approved a resolution asking voters to approve a $7.3 million general obligation bond in the November election that will fund the repair of its shuttered City Hall and construct a new parking deck adjacent to the building.
On Tuesday, May 28, the council voted 6-1 to send the issue to voters to fund rehabilitation of the building at 104 S.E. Kibling Ave. The structure was vacated in 2011 because of failing rafters and stressed roof beams.
Erich Mueller, Troutdale finance director, has presented plans on how the city can move forward on issuing a bond since March.
The measure lists a variety of projects that may be accomplished if the bond passes in November.
"Essentially, we are indicating we are going to conduct these capital expenditures that are within this list, but the way the bond title is written we are not promising we will accomplish all of them," Mueller said. "We are only promising that we will spend money on things that are on this list, but we may not do all of things on the list."
That agenda includes repairing failing beams, improving handicap accessibility access and demolishing two building additions constructed in 1977 and 1989. The two additions need to be removed so contractors can inspect the building's foundation.
At a City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 14, councilors by consensus agreed to fund the project along with building a new parking lot. However, councilors voiced concerns about running out of money for the entire project.
They requested staff craft the measure so that parking lot construction is a lesser priority than City Hall reconstruction. That way if building reconstruction costs are higher than expected, deck construction funds will be diverted to City Hall building repairs.
The unknown condition of the building's foundation is the aspect most likely to eat up the contingency fund.
"Because until we get down there — and excavate — we are not going to know the damage that needs to be repaired," Mueller said. "Each professional that's looked at it has come back with a range, because none of them have X-ray vision."
Parking deck construction is estimated to cost between $1 million and $1.5 million, Mueller said.
If voters OK the bond it will cost approximately 28 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. For a home assessed at $200,000, approximately $56 would be added to the annual property tax bill, or $4.67 per month, and the bond will be paid back over 20 years.
If the measure passes, reconstruction will commence in fall 2021, said City Manager Ray Young. If the measure doesn't pass, the building will continue to deteriorate, and Troutdale does not have money in its coffers to pay for reconstruction.
Since the 2011 departure, administrative staff members have worked out of two rented offices along the Historic Columbia River Highway in downtown Troutdale. When discussing restoration plans in January, Troutdale staff recommended transforming the building into a community center, which would cost less than restoring the building to a functioning City Hall.
Councilor Dave Ripma disagreed and led a charge to reconstruct the building as a functioning administration building and return Troutdale employees to a city-owned structure. Ripma argued that restoring the building to its original-use status was a better sell to voters, and would benefit the city by moving city employees out of rented space.
Ripma convinced councilors to move forward on restoring the building to a functioning government office space. Now, the decision rests in Troutdale voters' hands.
City Hall historyTroutdale's City Hall was constructed in the early 1920s. The upstairs was used an open public space, and a dance hall while the downstairs area served as the offices for city of Troutdale employees. During the next 50 years, as city staff increased, the building became more crowded. In 1977, an addition was built on the south/southwest end. In 1989, another addition was constructed on the east side for more city office space.
n In 2011, Troutdale vacated the building because of structural issues that made it unsafe for staff. Over the intervening years various proposals to remedy the problem, reuse the building, and build a new City Hall were discussed, but nothing materialized.In April 2014, the City Council passed a resolution setting out a timeline to study next steps. In 2017, the city hired architectural firm FFA to evaluate the building and come up with various reconstruction possibilities and budgets. On March 6, 2018, the council had a work session and FFA presented its findings.
n In May, the council approved asking voters for the city to borrow $7.3 million for reconstruction.