By Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dexter city offices, fire station, and sheriff substation facilities are considered to be inadequate.
A needs assessment done by Partners in Architecture (PIA) found that the existing square footage of the city offices (2,570 sq. ft.), the fire department (8,180 sq. ft.), and the sheriff substation (1,240 sq. ft.) were all too small.
PIA calculated the optimal square footage for all three facilities; For city offices the difference was 4,600 sq. ft., for the fire department the difference was 9,220 sq. ft., and the difference for the sheriff substation was 1,360 sq. ft.
The city held a public forum in April, that was highly attended, pertaining to facilities and on July 8, city council met for a work session before their regularly scheduled meeting to talk about financing and potential ballot language for facilities projects.
Mayor Shawn Keough was scheduled to be absent from the work session and city council meeting the evening of July 8, council members Scott Bell and Julie Knight were also not in attendance.
Council was provided a packet that had a summary of facility financing options that had been gathered by city staff, and has evolved, in Feb. of 2018.
The summary had different types of bonds that were possible, including capital improvement bonds, building authority bonds, and a voted bond with an authorized millage.
Debt service/limits and bond financing options were also defined, with all of the information in that report posted on the city website.
Estimated debt service using current interest rates was calculated by the cities financial advisors and provided estimates at $5 million for 20 years ($340,000 per year) and $10 million for 20 years ($680,000).
Council member Zach Michels asked if $10 million would be enough for both city offices and the fire station, to which Mayor Pro Tem Paul Cousins responded that they could do a lot with that amount of money.
Michels also asked staff if there was any concern with doing all of those buildings together as a ballot question or if they should be done separately. City Manager Courtney Nichols responded that the ballot question should include facilities with a “but not limited to…” option to add on fire or sheriff (sub)stations as necessary.
Another topic brought up by Michels had to do with future work directed to city staff.
“We’ve done a lot of once in a generation projects recently,” said Michels. “Do you see any future projects were going to have to do in the next five to ten years that we haven’t been planning ahead for?”
Nichols mentioned the redevelopment of the 3045 Broad Street property, parking, and phase III of the Mill Creek Park with council member Jim Smith adding in future work along Dexter- Pinckney and Dexter-Chelsea roads.
Maintenance of recent projects, such as all of the new trails new going, was brought up as something that needed to be kept on top of as it continues to be something that can draw people to the local communities.
Community Development Director Michele Aniol said streetscape projects on the Baker road corridor could be a factor, with the same possibly being true for Forest and Grand streets.
Michels asked staff what they needed from council as far as language for a ballot question and Nichols responded that she could have city attorney’s draft the language for the second meeting of the month with the option to choose coming after that.
Nichols asked about the amount if council had an idea, but that it could be left blank and added in later.
Michels said he would be okay with up to 3 mills but didn’t want to go farther than that. He also said that they shouldn’t ask for less only to have to come back later asking for more money.
The language needs to be worded for the amount of the bond and how much a mill would account for.
Council member Jim Smith brought up design and expectations for the fire station and a presentation done by a potential designer for the station.
At the April public forum there was displeasure with the way the information was presented, something council hopes to avoid at the next public forum for more input on July 31 at the Dexter Community Library from 6 – 8 p.m.
They’ve talked about including the speaker with the input session, and not, that design and location may be two separate things and the cost of bringing the speaker should be considered.
Michels said it’s an intelligent community and if the city is going to ask for money for a fire station, with a divided council, they should let the crowd pick the brain of the potential designer.
Smith added that he would rather be farther along, having PIA and the fire chief sit down and work on the concept, looking at what they had worked together on thus far. With even the possibility of having the new station designer look at their progress and make suggestions based off of that. He reiterated he wasn’t sure what the designer could do to help them prepare for the July 31 public forum.
Ballot language is due to the county by Aug. 12, so the council has a little bit of time to make the decision on their wording with Nichols reminding everyone time would be needed to educate the public what they’re voting on.
Final discussion had to do with that July 31 public forum and what could be done better this time around.