By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – The village board has authorized the development of construction documents for the new Fire Station No. 1 being built at the intersection of Deerfield Lane and Riverside Drive.
On a 4-1 vote Monday, Feb. 17, the board gave the go-ahead to Five Bugles Design, the project architect, to include five alternate bids as outlined in a project cost estimate from the construction manager, Zeise Construction.
Those estimates include a base price of $5.19 million for the building, plus alternate bids that include $300,000 to build out the second floor, $206,000 to add a sixth apparatus bay, $11,000 to have a larger concrete apron in front, $18,000 for a larger concrete apron in back and $25,000 for full glass overhead doors.
When adding the second-floor work, which could be done to house County Rescue for the emergency medical service (EMS) to lease space in the building, the estimated construction costs come to $5.49 million.
However, when including other expenses, such as architectural, engineering and construction management fees, furniture, fixtures and equipment, site preparation costs and a contingency fund, the total estimated cost exceeds $7.1 million.
Trustee Michelle Eckert, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said she was frustrated with the current cost estimates when the village previously planned for a new fire station costing between $4-$6 million.
Village Administrator Alex Kaker said building a new fire station wouldn’t increase taxes in the village, even with the alternate bids, because some of Suamico’s previous debt is being paid off and would offset the amount to finance the project over 20 years.
Kaker said the village has dedicated more than $740,000 to the project without bonding, which includes $105,000 from the stadium district fund, $288,500 from the debt stabilization fund, $300,000 from the 2020 general fund, $40,526 from debt stabilization and $6,560 in donations.
“What that means is we have an additional $6.45 million that we have to go out for a general obligation bond,” he said.
Kaker said two groups of the village’s general obligation debt totaling $710,000 annually will be ending before bonds for the new fire station would start being paid off.
As a result, based on a potential payment schedule provided to the village by its financial consultant, Ehlers, Kaker said the annual payments with principal and interest for the fire station debt won’t result in higher taxes in the village.
“If any of these totals were over $710,000, it would be fair to say that, yes, you are raising taxes to fund this new facility,” he said. “But because the highest is $679,000, which really is an outlier, we are not raising taxes because of the fire station.”
The payment schedule from Ehlers lists a total cost to pay off the bonds of more than $8.1 million.
“These are high numbers,” Eckert said. “I mean, (it’s) $8 million when it’s all said and done… This is way too high.”
Kaker said he didn’t know where the facility could be cut back with it being built to meet the village’s needs for the next 50 years.
“There’s no gold-plated toilets,” he said. “There’s really nothing here that I would say is excessive or a Taj Mahal.”
Five Bugles designed the project to have two stories with 20,550 square feet, including a living quarters area of 6,050 square feet.
The base bid design includes five apparatus bays, while an alternative bid would add another bay with 1,500 square feet and make the total building area 22,050 square feet.
In addition, the overall footprint of the building has been designed to accommodate a potential building expansion of 6,000 square feet.
Net cost stressed
Board members who backed the construction documents emphasized what the new facility’s net cost would be when including potential revenue the village could receive after it’s built.
Trustee Sky Van Rossum, who chaired the meeting in Village President Laura Nelson’s absence, took exception with characterizing the new fire station as an $8 million project.
“EMS isn’t just a favor that we’re doing, it’s a significant revenue generator for this fire station,” Van Rossum said.
Over 15 years, he said the village will receive $525,000 from County Rescue to lease space in the facility.
He said the existing Fire Station No. 1 could generate another $200,000 by selling the property, plus the sale of that land and the existing County Rescue site to a taxable entity could bring in additional property tax revenue to the village.
By Van Rossum’s calculations, he said the net cost for a new fire station could be $5.788 million when including a contingency fund of $400,000, which wouldn’t necessarily be used.
“If we’re looking at trying to convey to the public right now that this is an $8 million fire station, well, I would expect that every one of them is going to come in here and be mad as hell about it,” he said. “But it’s not an $8 million fire station, and I think we need to be careful when we talk about that.”
Representatives from Five Bugles and Zeise appeared before the board to present the design development estimate.
Rob Krzyzanowski of Five Bugles said the figures presented to the board are estimates and not bid numbers at this point.
“All these numbers, in the scheme of things, are not bids yet,” he said. “That’s kind of one thing to keep in mind – they’re estimates… Once we get (the) design done, those will be the hard numbers that we’ll bid.”
Krzyzanowski said the designing for the project is now about 40-50 percent completed.
“The schedule right now has us to finish up the second week in March, hand (the design) over to Zeise, Zeise will kind of get the bid packages ready, do another estimate and then March 23 we’ll do a special meeting to put the plans out on the street and go out to bid,” he said. “From there it will be three weeks… sometime in April we’ll receive the bids… on how much it’s going to cost, and then we’ll meet again and make motions to approve.”
The Fire Station No. 1 project is scheduled for completion in early 2021.