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Martin aldermen balk at new city hall proposal

Martin aldermen balk at new city hall proposal
During a lengthy informal session Tuesday evening, discussion regarding the retrofitting of the new city hall location took center stage among the Martin Board of Aldermen.
The board offered little comment while digesting a half a million dollar proposal offered by Martin Mayor Randy Brundige for modifications suggested to retrofit the current First State Bank off of University Street to meet the needs of the new city hall location.
After scanning the list of proposed improvements which included a city seal etched into the floor of the bank location, a town clock and new carpet throughout the building, board members shared dissent about the hefty price tag of the modifications.
“The way I understood it when the bank was sold to us, it would be ready to move into,” alderman Terry Hankins said during the informal session on Tuesday.
“I thought that is why we bought it (First State Bank). If it wasn’t ready to go into, we were misrepresented,” alderman Johnny Tuck added.
After purchasing the First State Bank building for $1.5 million, alderman David Belote said if the retrofitting proposal was accepted by the board, the total cost to the city would top $2 million for a new city hall location.
“Obviously there are things on here that could wait. We should come up with a plan that can be incrementalized over time. It’s just going to take time digesting all of this,” Belote commented.
Under the proposal, a courtroom would have to be constructed within the new location. In addition to actually building a courtroom, the area must also be furnished with chairs, lighting and a microphone system.
The price tag to install the courtroom is estimated at $200,000.
But the board agreed that the new location needed a courtroom.
“We can piece mill all of this and do things as you need it done,” alderman Danny Nanney shared.
Another issue of discussion was how to pay for the upgrades to the building.
Martin City Recorder suggested the amount could be added to the total financing of the project which would stretch the money out over at least 25 years.
“I can’t see borrowing extra money to pay for this over 25 years when we could just take it out of the fund balance,” Nanney said.
Belote said that by stretching the payments out over time, it would help soften the blow.
Reaching an impasse for an agreement on the retrofitting projects, Brundige stressed to board members with a move-in date of July 1 of this year, the plans must get drawn and sent out for bids on the project soon.
The board did not make a decision as to what action they would take during Tuesday’s meeting.
In other news, board members will vote to accept a bid offered by McCord Communications (Whelan) for replacement of the city’s storm siren warning system Monday night.
The company presented a bid of nearly $130,000 to install six warning sirens throughout the city using the existing poles. These would replace the city’s current defunct storm warning system.
The new system would use a tone and voice message alert to warn citizens of impending severe weather.
Martin Fire Chief Russell Schwahn said the voice message system would also allow emergency warnings to be issued through a PA system with live voice messages.
 When the issue of financing the project was posed, the city’s finance committee suggested adding a $2 flat rate fee each month for City of Martin water customers until the project was paid, approximately 18 months.
“We are not going to have the money, mayor, without putting the extra $2 on families?” alderman Bill Harrison asked.
Harrison eventually agreed to the proposed $2 fee under the terms that once the project was paid for, the water bill fee would “cease and decease.”
In citizen input, local business owner Olivia Wilson posed the issue of dumpster removal to the board of mayor and aldermen.
After commending the downtown businesses, public works department and the police department for helping to keep a watchful eye out for illegal dumping, Wilson suggested the city remove one of the three dumpsters located in the parking lots behind the businesses on South Lindell Street.
Through a partnership with UTM Recycles!, Wilson said her business, Olivia’s Opera House restaurant, has significantly reduced refuse through recycling.
Stable owner Sherri Legins reiterated Wilson’s suggestion and asked the city to consider having only a trash can put into place for her business.
Through recycling, Legins said her business very rarely disposes of trash.
Brundige told the business owner that her cost would only drop to $70-plus each month instead of $90-plus each month if she had only a trash can instead of a dumpster.
By removing one of the three dumpsters from the parking lot, Wilson said the city could save money for garbage disposal.
Brundige told Wilson and Legins that the money saved through such a move would not be a “great reduction in costs.”
“But if you take out one dumpster, then you’ll save approximately $2,600 a year if you look at it long-term,” Belote commented.
Brundige responded by saying the businesses along the street all pay an equal portion of the dumpster fees for waste removal and the price is passed down from Barker Bros. and on to the businesses.
Wilson and Legins asked the board to consider their suggestion if only to help curb illegal dumping and to save any amount of money the city can from the removal of a dumpster.
Brundige said the city would look into the suggestion.
The Martin Board of Mayor and Aldermen will meet again at 5:15 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 8 for its monthly formal session in the city hall courtroom.

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