Crestwood Board of Aldermen weighs final approval of ordinance to defease certificates

Eighth in a series


Executive Editor

Final approval of an ordinance authorizing the defeasance of bond-like certificates issued to fund the construction of a new police station was scheduled to be conducted earlier this week by the Crestwood Board of Aldermen.

The Board of Aldermen was set to meet Tuesday night — after the Call went to press.

Aldermen adopted a resolution in July authorizing City Administrator Don Greer to initiate the process of de-feasing the certificates issued in late 2002 to fund the construction of the police facility. The resolution states the board intends to defease the certificates before Oct. 15 when a principal and interest payment totaling roughly $553,500 is due.

Defeasing the balance of the $9.83 million in certificates of participation, or COPs, issued to fund the police facility would bring an end to the project, which has become a focal point of residents’ dissatisfaction with the city’s precarious financial condition. Roughly $1.6 million has been spent to date on the project.

Voters in August 2002 approved Prop-osition S, the extension of a half-cent sales tax to fund construction of a new police building, fund repairs at the Government Center and allow the continuation of the city’s street repair and replacement program. The half-cent, capital-improvements sales tax had been scheduled to end in 2008, but voter approval of Proposition S extended the sales tax until 2023.

As the Crestwood Board of Aldermen moves toward halting the construction of the police facility, the Call continues its review of the project that dates back more than five years ago to May 2000.

The eighth installment of the chronology of the police facility project, based on city documents and published accounts in the Call, picks up in June 2005:

• June 9, 2005 — A group of Crestwood residents seeking a public vote to reconsider an ordinance approving a lease agreement with the Westfield Corp. has collected about 1,700 signatures — nearly 600 more than required — the Call reported. And the citizens’ group hopes to collect 2,000 signatures by 11 a.m. Friday, June 10, when members plan to deliver the signed petitions to Crestwood City Clerk Kimberly Cottle, according to Jim Murphy, a former state representative and former Crestwood alderman who is serving as spokesman for the group.

“We expect 2,000 (signatures),” Murphy told the Call, adding that he believes the number of signatures should send a message to the city’s elected officials. “It’s amazing. People are just upset.”

Roughly 1,125 signatures of the city’s registered voters are needed for reconsideration of the ordinance. The City Charter states that if an ordinance is returned to the Board of Aldermen and the board fails to repeal the measure, voters then will consider it at a city election. Such an election would cost roughly $10,000, according to the group’s petition.

As proposed, the city would lease office space at the Westfield Shoppingtown Crest-wood for roughly 18 months while the retrofitting of the Government Center to include a new police facility takes place.

Under the agreement, the city would lease roughly 14,827 square feet of office space at a cost of $3,333.33 per month.

• June 10, 2005 — A group of Crest-wood residents seeking a public vote to reconsider an ordinance approving a lease agreement with the Westfield Corp. delivered petitions containing more than 2,100 signatures to City Hall. The Crestwood Citizens for Financial Responsibility turned in petitions containing 2,146 signatures, according Murphy, who said he was pleased with the number of signatures collected, noting the group collected “a thousand more than we needed.”

• June 13, 2005 — During a Board of Aldermen meeting, Greer read a letter from Westfield Development Director G. Todd Rogan, who wrote, “… We do not want the lease to be an issue of concern for either the city or residents. Please accept this correspondence as Westfield’s offer to cancel the temporary lease of office space at Westfield Crestwood.”

• June, 22, 2005 — In a memorandum to Greer, Public Works Director Jim Eckrich wrote that bids for the renovation project were opened last week and the lowest base bid totals roughly $1 million more than the cost estimated by the project’s architect, Horner & Shifrin Inc.

Eckrich noted that seven bids were received for the renovation of City Hall to include a new police facility with the lowest base bid of $5,966,011 submitted by Hankins Contracting.

“Hankins Contracting submitted the lowest base bid, which does not include any of the alternatives or allowances,” Eckrich wrote. “The estimated cost for the base bid, completed by Horner & Shifrin, was $4,875,820 … The submitted low bid is $1,090,191 over the estimated cost. Based upon a budget of $8.7 million, the submitted low bid is also $260,745 over the budgeted amount for this project.”

In his memo, Eckrich stated that if the Board of Aldermen decides to proceed with the project, “a substantial redesign will be necessary. I do not believe that $1.1 million can be value engineered from the existing project. It would be difficult to value engineer $300,000 out of the project and that would leave no room for change orders, which almost always accompany a project such as this.”

Two options, the public works director stated, appear to exist for the Board of Al-dermen to consider:

• “Full defeasance of the certificates of participation and a shelving of this project. If the Board of Aldermen chooses this op-tion, they could save a sum of money from the capital improvements fund each year and use that money to make improvements to the Government Center (City Hall) and police facilities on an incremental basis,” Eckrich stated.

• “A substantial redesign of the Govern-ment Center renovations. At this point, it may be prudent for the Board of Aldermen to consider modifying the proposed structure to significantly reduce costs. Modifi-cations could include removing the second floor; removing or reducing the administration wing; (or) designing a building addition around the existing structure to avoid extensive demolition costs and relocation fees,” Eckrich stated. “These renovations would not meet the extent of the improvements recommended in the needs assessment nor would they address all of the deficiencies of the existing building, but they could substantially improve the facilities at the Government Center. The drawback would be that this type of redesign would necessitate the need for additional architectural services and related fees.”

The chronology continues next week.