Florence City Council chose Coos Bay architecture firm HGE Inc. to design and oversee the $1.9 million remodel of the Florence City Hall building during its Jan. 23 meeting.
In addition to the remodel, councilors approved a city staff recommendation to spend approximately $250,000 to finish a 2,700 square foot portion of the Florence Justice Center, called the "round room," where city staff will conduct business during the city hall renovation.
Project Manager Megan Messmer said, "Planning commission and city council meetings will occur at the Florence Events Center during construction."
The Justice Center space will be turned back over to the police department after the city hall remodel is completed.
The remodel will expand the existing city hall building from 9,600 square feet to 10,200 square feet. According to Messmer, the architectural design work will take place this winter and spring. City staff will transfer to the Justice Center after upgrades are finished this summer and will relocate back to city hall after the remodel is completed in January 2018. Councilors expressed concerns about the overall project cost estimates increasing from approximately $1.9 million to $2.2 million
Mayor Joe Henry said, "In my mind it is easier to justify two separate projects. I can easily justify fixing the Justice Center."
City Manager Erin Reynolds said that using the same architect for both the city hall and Justice Center projects would see some economy of scale savings .
She said the city could track the costs of both projects independently . Regarding the Justice Center, Reynolds said, "It is really just finishing that room."
In other business, Public Works Director Mike Miller reported on the city's progress to clear iron buildup from the 13 production wells that supply Florence with drinking water.
Miller said, "Our ground water has naturally occurring iron, six to nine parts per million that does tend to foul or clog the wells. It is also something we have to remove from the water to make it nice and clean."
According to Miller, the city has a program to rehabilitate one to two wells per year. In 2016 three wells were cleaned.
Miller said the wells are cleared by an impulse generation tool that uses vibrations to remove the iron buildup from the pipes and sediment screens.
He said the process successfully reduced the level of iron in the well water and increased water flow in the wells Interim Finance Director Andy Parks reported on the feasibility of the city moving from annual to biannual budgeting .
"The budget committee member terms would go from three years to four years and the budget committee approval would be every other year," Parks said. "The city is well positioned to utilize biannual budgeting."
He said the city's focus on five-year forecasting has created a cultural environment that would facilitate moving to biannual budgeting.
Reynolds said, "We have found a lot of our city projects end up being 18 to 24 months long. We have been administering and planning for that long. Administratively, it feels like we are doing it already."
Henry asked, "What would the timing be if we decided to implement?"
"We could start tomorrow morning," Parks said. "We are having a staff meeting tomorrow morning and this could be on the agenda."
The consensus of the council was to have city staff move forward on establishing a biannual budget program.
Before the meeting was adjourned, Henry reported that the application for Florence to be designated a Coast Guard City USA was close to being approved.
"Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River is so confident that they are beginning to work on their 100th anniversary celebration and they would like to work with us in conjunction with the Coast Guard City celebration ," Henry said.