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Alamo Council Accelerates Progress on New City Hall

The Alamo City Council, which met April 18, agreed to accelerate plans to renovate an existing, city-owned structure for future use as a new City Hall. The Council has budgeted $600,000 for the project, but will set aside $800,000 in the event of unforeseen overages due to the rising cost of building materials. The Council targeted December 31, 2022, as a finish date for the project.

City Manager Jeff Floyd recommended a four-step plan for completing the project: identifying and securing funding resources; finalizing architectural/ construction plans and replacing the roof on the targeted existing structure; advertizing for bids; and voting on bids, awarding the project and starting construction. While the Council approved the first two steps, the remaining steps were tabled for discussion at the Council’s next regular session.

The City has been contemplating for several years the need to relocate City Hall from a modified convenience store that has become obsolete. As Floyd noted, the project was part of the City’s five-year plan of improvement for 2014 to 2019. The Council has also pondered replacing an outmoded city police station next door. The structure being considered as a new location for City Hall and the Alamo Police Station is located on Main Street. The 100-year-old building has served as a grocery store and a pharmacy.

Floyd estimated the renovation will cost approximately $125 per square foot for City Hall and $100 per square foot for the police station. The project will be funded from the City’s General Fund/ Savings ($250,000), from a previous ARPA allocation ($250,000), and from an expected June 2022 ARP allocation ($300,000). Any funds remaining from the $800,000 set aside for the project would be returned to the respective accounts from which the funds were drawn. Vidalia architect Fred Dean, who was hired to provide preliminary plans for the project, will stay on board for the completion of the project. Recreation Department

During the session, Councilman Dondrea Geter asked for permission to expend funds from a budget established to improve the City’s Recreation Park. The City received a $200,000 matching grant from the Department of Natural Resources, which required the City to set aside $200,000 from its General Fund/Savings and ARP allocation for the project; 50% of this amount will be refunded by DNR. Geter said work is progressing on the site, which calls for a refurbished basketball court, fencing, surveillance, picnic shelters, grills, and a gazebo. Geter said current protocol calls for Council permission to pay for each expense as they are accrued. He asked the Council to consider a blanket approval to expend funds from the budget for each purchase as they occur. Geter pointed out that the budget is finite because of the DNR stipulations for the grant, and overages cannot occur. The Council agreed to Geter’s request with a stipulation from Councilman Steve Jones that security systems be installed first and not left until later in the project.

Hardware Store Purchase

The Council voted to purchase a former hardware store on Railroad Avenue at a cost of $150,000, with $100,000 being allocated from the General Fund and $50,000 from savings. The property, which includes several structures, may be used for city functions, a farmer’s market and potentially as rental property for incoming businesses, Floyd said.

The Council also approved a 75-25 split for employee insurance to offset a monthly premium increase. Floyd recommended the City pay 75% of the premium increase incurred by employees and the employees pay 25% of the price hike, on top of the monthly premium. Currently, the City pays 80% of the monthly premium and the employees pay 20%. The previous rate per employee was $3447.95 and the new rate is $4309.85, an increase of approximately $861.90 per employee.

The Council also agreed to hire a full-time sergeant for the Alamo Police Department to assist Chief Karen Zander. The Department also employees a number of part-time officers.

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