Guymon City Council Thursday night approved the last step necessary to begin construction of three municipal buildings – after the city attorney informed the panel of possible consequences for breach of faith. The vote was 3 to 1, with Councilman Larry Swager voting no and Mayor Jim Norris absent.
Again playing to a packed house with a strong contingent of library supporters, uniformed firefighters and other city employees, including Animal Control Officer Benji Fuentes in attendance, Vice Mayor Kim Peterson opened the discussion by asking city attorney David Petty to repeat his earlier private conversation with Peterson about what would happen if the fire station and animal shelter projects did not move forward. Petty said that 85 percent of the $5.5 million received on Dec. 21, 2010, must be spent within three years, or by Dec. 21, 2013.
In the short-term, if that did not happen, likely there would be an IRS audit; lender Bank of Oklahoma would have to pay tax on the presently tax-exempt interest, which Petty estimated at $440,000/year, and would come seeking restitution for that payout. Longer-term risk would hinder the current relationship the city has with local banks who have lent the municipality “millions upon millions upon millions” in lease-purchase agreements for such things as golf carts, fire trucks and trash trucks. This is an essential tool, he added, for municipalities to pay for such projects. Petty explained this is all on a good faith basis that the existing council would honor the contractual obligations of previous councils.
Councilman William King moved to accept the guaranteed maximum price for the fire station and animal shelter (which is explained in detail here). Councilman John VanMeter seconded. The vote was 3-1, with Swager opposed.
Then Timberlake presented the guaranteed maximum price for the library, which is in line to receive ARRA (stimulus) funding from the USDA. That total was $4,184,819, plus $501,000 in furniture, fixtures, engineering, architectural inspection, landscaping design and installation as well as the lift station, for a total of $4,685,819.
The vice mayor again asked the city attorney what would happen if the project did not move forward. Petty commented about “following through on commitments.” He added he had worked with other municipalities and had never seen a loan or grant turned down. “These folks have long memories as well.”
Swager asked for the details. He was told it would be 18,900 square feet, which breaks down to $273 per square foot, however that’s with everything — including a safe room/tornado shelter, concrete parking, circle drive, generator, etc.
The councillor then asked about computers and Internet availability, noting he had seen that Amarillo schools were switching to iPads. Library Director Rachel Sides said the present library has 20 computers as well as wireless Internet, so many people bring their laptops in to take advantage of the free wifi.
Ken Stonecipher, serving as the owner’s representative for the city of Guymon during the projects, said there would be both hardwiring for computers as well as wifi throughout the structure.
The vote to accept the GMP was the same — 3-1, with Swager opposed.
VanMeter stated that he was the councilman at large and that he had heard a lot of comments from constituents about these projects — and those were running 65 percent in favor. He pointed out that these buildings were the top vote-getters in the surveys the city had done a few years ago. VanMeter noted that if you take the projected life of the buildings as 75 to 100 years and divided it that way, the cost becomes considerably less. On a closing note, he added: “You get what you pay for.”
As for a construction timeline, a Timberlake representative said the fire station would take 13 months and the animal shelter 7 months. The library, which is in line for federal funding and still needs paperwork completed and a closing, should take about 12 months. Work would begin at the fire station as soon as possible. However, a lift station still needs to be installed at the animal shelter to replace the existing septic system.
Building Inspector Bryon Bennett stated that building permits had already been issued.
In other business:
– No one spoke at a public hearing to receive comments on a Section 5311 application to US DOT Federal Transit Administration for 2013 funding for operating expenses for the city’s public transit system, The Ride.
– Council accepted the low bid from Parsley of three received for $21,635 to replace the leaky roof at the library.
– City Manager Ted Graham said the water tower refurbishment project had been delayed until Sept. 1 and expects it to take about 6 weeks to complete.
– Vice Mayor Kim Peterson requested prayers for Mayor Jim Norris and his recovery.