City finances doing well

Director reports garage income above target goal

Michelle Monroe

By Michelle Monroe

Executive Editor

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ST. ALBANS CITY — In its first action at its Tuesday night meeting, the St. Albans City Council approved the use of $300,000 in reserve funds to cover cost overruns for the city hall renovation project. The council also approved using $160,000 in reserve funds for a new water line on Houghton Street. The design process for the $2 million city hall project took longer than anticipated, explained city manager Dominic Cloud, resulting in additional costs of $25,000. In addition, because of the design delays, the project went out to bid in May, when most contractors already were working. As a result the city received just one bid for the work on the mechanical systems, and it was $200,000 over the city’s estimates. Finally, the vault is costing $25,000 more than anticipated and the elevators $50,000. The council approved a staff recommendation to cover the overruns, taking $75,000 each from the reserves for the water and wastewater funds and using $150,000 in general fund reserves that had been set aside for the clerk’s office and to cover unanticipated revenue shortfalls. The city had set aside $100,000 to cover any shortfalls in tax increment financing (TIF) revenues. However, because TIF revenues are sufficient to pay the debt on the TIF bonds, the funds are not needed, said Cloud. He suggested the city apply them to the city hall renovation. Another $50,000 would come from the $80,000 in the reserve for the preservation of public records. City clerk Sue Krupp said she had no objection to the use of the reserve, but noted the funds should be segregated and used only for the vaults. The alternative to using the reserve was to delay some aspects of the project, such as the work on the entryway and the paving of the parking lot. Ward 1 representative Tim Hawkins said he was not in favor of delaying any aspects of the project. Scott Corrigan, Ward 4 representative, said, “These kind of things are the reason you have the reserve funds, so I’m all in favor of using them.” Asked about the 50-25- 25 split between the funds being used to make up the overrun, Cloud said the split is based on how much work staff in city hall as a whole does for each of the funds. The split of costs from city hall has been in use for three years, and the most recent analysis of it was done just prior to the renovation project, he said. The council unanimously approved the use of the reserve funds. Mayor Liz Gamache and Ward 2 representative Jim Pelkey were absent. Houghton Street water line The water main on Houghton Street has had four leaks in the past 18 to 24 months, according to Director of Public Works Allen Robtoy, who came before the council last night to ask for $160,000 in reserve funds to replace it. Although most of Houghton Street itself was discontinued and the land given to Mylan Technologies, Inc., and the owners of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Center, both located on the street, the city still owns the water line and has a right-of-way to maintain it. The water line is a critical link in the water system on the west side of the city, explained Robtoy. Mylan has received approval for site changes to connect its two properties on either side of Houghton Street that include altering traffic patterns. That work will be done next year, which is also when the city will be doing work all along Lake Street, said Robtoy. “We’ve got to get out ahead of these big projects,” said Robtoy. Much of the city’s water and wastewater infrastructure is between 80 and 100 years old. The city has been upgrading and replacing lines whenever possible