WL Council OKs City Hall, library bond projects
West Linn Mayor Russ Axelrod referred to it as the "first cut." City Manager Eileen Stein's preferred term was "low-hanging fruit."
As the City Council revisited a list of city-owned facility improvement projects that could be funded using proceeds from a renewed general obligation (GO) bond during a work session Monday, Dec. 3, the goal was simple: direct staff on less controversial projects so they could move forward. Having addressed that "low-hanging fruit," the council could have a more in-depth discussion of other projects at a later date.
"Council prioritization of funds is necessary to allow us to keep moving forward as directed," Community Development Director John Williams said. "Some of these are project scopes we know pretty well ... others are buildings where we don't necessarily have a full understanding of the costs.
"We don't expect you will arrive at every conclusion tonight."
By night's end, the council expressed general approval of about $1.1 million in spending for city facilities. A total of $2.5 million of the $19 million GO bond was reserved for these facilities, which include everything from government buildings like City Hall and the West Linn Public Library to volunteer-run community centers (Robinwood Station) and vacant facilities (the old city hall building).
In May, voters approved the renewal of an existing bond levy of $.42 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value that had been in place since 1998. It was estimated to generate about $19 million over the course of 21 years, which the City said would fund capital improvement projects related to facilities, transportation and parks.
The council addressed the transportation ($13 million) and parks ($3.5 million) segments of the bond earlier this year, and preliminary work has begun on projects for both categories. That left the list of eight city facilities, which on Monday were divided into two categories of use: governmental and non-governmental. The distinction was necessary because the City chose to use a governmental bond; the other option was "nonprofit."
Governmental bonds — which are known to generate higher yields for cities that use them — allow for just 10 percent of those proceeds to be used for either nonprofit or for-profit investment.
"Buildings owned and operated by the City for governmental purposes (i.e. City Hall, police station, library and Sunset Fire Hall) are clearly not subject to that limitation," Williams wrote in a Nov. 20 memo to the council. "However, the buildings that will potentially be operated under management or lease agreements, including Robinwood Station, Bolton Station, McLean House and the old city hall, may be subject to the limitations."
While there are exceptions to the 10 percent rule, Williams said the easiest route forward would be to spend no more than 10 percent — or about $1.9 million — of the bond on these non-governmental facilities.
For the time being, the council focused on the governmental facilities that don't carry limitations. On Monday, councilors tentatively approved $680,000 in spending at the library for smart building controls/lighting upgrades, a new generator and a roof replacement. They also gave a nod to $200,000 in spending for a new generator at the police station and $100,000 for renovations at Sunset Fire Hall. Finally, they approved $120,000 for HVAC replacement and smart building controls/lighting upgrades at the current City Hall.
Staff suggested an additional $250,000 be spent at City Hall for security and layout improvements on the first floor, but the council opted to categorize that as a potential "phase two" project.
"A big chunk of structural (work) on the first floor seems like a lower priority, so let's focus on the energy components (at City Hall)," Axelrod said.
Several councilors expressed frustration at the need for a generator at the police station, given that the building opened just four years ago. According to Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester, a design error resulted in the generator not being able to provide power for the entire building during an outage.
"When was it built, seven years ago?" City Councilor Rich Sakelik said. "I would hope someone did their due diligence on the generator."
"They did not design properly the generator capacity," Axelrod said. "We have to live with that."
The council plans to discuss the non-governmental city facilities at a Dec. 17 work session.
Learn more about the bond at https://westlinnoregon.gov/community/2018-general-obligation-bond-projects.