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Municipal remodel funding vote delayed


The Petersburg Borough Assembly will delay voting for funding the municipal building remodel project, after construction costs came in higher than estimated.

Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht learned last Friday the anticipated $9.8 million project is now totaling $10.2 million, according to MRV Architects, the firm hired to complete the remodel design. The Borough Assembly was scheduled to vote December 7 on funding the project, but that date will likely be pushed back to January.

Giesbrecht said he’s asked MRV architect Corey Wall to identify areas to cut, or move to an alternate, less expensive version of the project.

The latest version of MRV’s Municipal Building floor plan is included in this edition on page 20.

“That’s going to take a little time,” Giesbrecht said. “We’re also looking for things our existing staff can do as well like hauling debris off, those kinds of things. I want to see the changes that he’s recommending and want to run it by everyone who is affected.”

Police Chief Kelly Swihart is out of town this week and Giesbrecht specifically wants to check with him before any changes are made—more than $100,000 of the increased funds are in public safety radio and communication equipment.

Other increased costs are associated with the building’s current foundation, portions of which will need to be replaced that engineers hadn’t anticipated early on.

“The costs that are going up can’t be avoided,” Giesbrecht said. “Now we’re adjusting to that, what things we can take out of the project are what we’re

looking at.”

Giesbrecht said staff would also explore with the architects whether certain elements of the construction project can be completed at a later date.

“A store room, for example, is it something we could add to the building later?” Giesbrecht said. “That’s a good thing to delete from the base construction. But we don’t want to move something out that becomes impossible to add back in later.”

Wall will send ideas for possible cuts to borough staff soon. In the meantime, Giesbrecht said his staff would take time to review all options before bringing the project to the Borough Assembly in January for approval.

“We’re not going to rush this,” Giesbrecht said. “It’s way too important. I want to look at any changes very carefully and let other department heads and Kelly (Swihart) look at it.”

State grants will fund more than half of the municipal remodel project. The rest will come from the borough’s general fund and, pending assembly approval, allocation from Power and Light and the Motor Pool funds—roughly $2.2 million.

The assembly has been supportive of the project as it’s progressed, but hasn’t had formal discussion regarding the remaining $2.2 million. The Borough Assembly can decide by a majority vote to fund the project, make changes or cancel it entirely.

The municipal building was originally constructed in 1958 and hasn’t been substantially renovated since then. The slab of concrete in the dispatch room has dipped below ground level. Swihart built a small ramp underneath his desk so that it sits level in his office. The building also has several load-bearing deficiencies.


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