Allegan seeks bond for city hall work

Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

A $1.1 million renovation plan for Allegan City Hall is moving forward after city council members voted Monday night 4 to 3 in favor of directing staff to proceed with bonding options.

While the conceptual plan for renovations estimates the cost at $1,081,300, city finance director Tracy Stull said in a previous meeting the estimated cost was workable within the budget and would cost about $110,000 annually for 10 to 15 years at a 2.5 percent interest. Those bonding options are what staff will now be seeking.

Council members Nancy Ingalsbee, Charles Tripp and Patrick Morgan voted against moving forward with bond options.

Ingalsbee was the most outspoken on the project, saying it was a $1.8 million project after adding an estimated $160,000 annual debt cost to the city budget over the next 10 years. She wanted to discuss if other city infrastructure needs would be paid for before committing to only one city hall option presented to the council. She also did not believe the size of the current city hall would meet future staffing needs.

Renovations include upgrading the electrical services, adding an elevator for ADA accessibility, relocating the majority of city staff to the second floor in an open office plan, creating a waiting area and conference room on the first floor and improving the basement for better use of storing documents and servers.

Mike Manning said the city had been studying other options for many years, which cost a lot of money, and those options were no longer available.

In council member packets was a history of city hall discussions, renovation options and studies that dated back to 1994. In all, seven studies were presented with about five properties reviewed. The cost of five of those studies was $33,600, with the cost of the other two studies unknown.

“Of all the different exhibits presented this is the most reasonable expenditure-wise and it’s a good time to move forward,” Manning said “There are no other options, we asked staff to move forward, they did, and this is it.”

Since 2017, six city-owned properties have been sold, which included options of where to relocate city hall.

Rachel McKenzie asked city manager Joel Dye if the current fund balance could absorb the annual debt cost.

 Dye said the fund balance was at $2 million with about $800,000 committed to other expenditures.

“At $1.2 million, it’s still in very good standing and the majority of debt will be paid off,” he said. “In 2011-12 the city was in debt $500,000, the payment went down to $200,000 and will be at about $80,000 when we could take on $160,000 for an annual debt payment of up to $240,000.”

As for other infrastructure projects, the 2018-19 budget currently being worked on has big building maintenance budgets, including $15,000 for the Regent Theatre and $20,000 for the Griswold, said Dye.

“But we haven’t seen that yet,” said Ingalsbee.

 Capital improvement lists and budgets for infrastructure, as well as the Pacer road condition map for Allegan, will be on display during “Coffee with Council” on Saturday, Jan. 13, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Griswold Auditorium. The public is invited to sit one-on-one with council members to give their input on what is important in the upcoming budget.

Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at


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