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Town hall plans progress

March 22, 2011

Maiden residents, employees and officials are one step closer to having a new town hall.

Maiden Town Council voted Monday night to move forward with architectural plans for a new town hall and council chambers expected to cost more than $1 million.

Council members and town officials talked about funding options for the project, which has yet to be set in stone. Officials voted Monday to proceed with architectural drawings for the new building, but they didn't set a timeline for when, or if, the facility will be completed.

Town Manager Todd Herms outlined several financing options for the town, which could include borrowing money for the project, spending only the town's money on the project or putting funding down and financing the remaining costs.

Herms estimated that the town could receive a 3.5 percent interest rate on a 10-year loan; a 4.5 percent interest rate on a 15-year loan; and a 5 percent interest rate on a 20-year loan.

"No matter which way we go, I really don't think council should go beyond (spending) $100,000 to $120,000 a year," Herms said, adding that's the limit he feels comfortable spending without raising taxes or cutting services to citizens.

Herms said the town is probably capable of spending about $180,000 a year on the town hall, but he wants a "cushion" to ensure the town doesn't take on a project it can't afford.

Mayor Bob Smyre stressed that he doesn't want the project to increase costs to citizens in any way.

"This wouldn't have anything to do with water bills or power bills or electrical," he said. "This is a whole different animal."

Marty Beal, with CBSA Architects, completed a space-needs analysis for the council in January. The analysis determined the town needs an 11,100-square-foot facility to alleviate storage problems and space needs. The new town hall could include space for council chambers, as well as a drive-thru window for utility customers to make payments.

Herms said the estimated cost of the facility is about $115 a square foot, bringing the cost of the building to about $1.3 million.

Currently, the town has about $250,000 set aside for a town hall construction project, and Herms recommended council use some of those funds to complete architectural drawings of the town hall.

The Local Government Commission, which must approve any municipality's request to borrow money, must have drawings of the proposed project before it approves the town's financial plans.

The current town hall was built in 1921 and was remodeled in the early 60s after a fire burned the building's top two floors.

"This is nothing we've been rushing into," Smyre said. "It's been on our minds for a long time."

Council didn't establish a time frame as to when, or if, they want building construction to start, so Herms warned officials that waiting to act could change finance rates and other cost estimates.

"This is all just a best estimate," Herms told council members. "So basically, if council wishes to wait, none of these numbers will be correct. ... This is just a best estimate of what we've put together.

It's not set in stone by any means."

Council reasoned that the architectural drawings for the town hall will be relevant to the town for several years in the future.

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