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Bonding, moving costs added to city hall issue

SOLON– It will take one more meeting to nail it down.
The members of the Solon City Council will hold a special session Wednesday, Sept. 14, to finish up the details on ballot language and repayment of a $1.35 million bond issue to purchase a new city hall.
Council members were expected to approve the ballot language at last week’s regular session (Sept. 7), with a decision repayment to be made Sept. 21.
But council members wanted more information to be inserted into the language, and council member Steve Stange called for a special session to wrap up all the loose ends.
“What do you think about just one meeting to complete all of this– all of our strategy and what we’re going to do?” Stange asked.
With possible quorum issues for Sept. 21, council members agreed.
One decision that was made last week centered on the purchase price of the property, 100 S. Cedar St., also known as Brosh Chapel and Community Center.
The city is looking to pay the asking price of $1.3 million, but the bond issue will be $1.35 million.
Approximately $26,000 in bonding expenses was added into the bond issue, as well as $24,000 for furnishings, equipment and other associated moving costs.
That increase prompted one council member to balk.
“I just think $25,000 is a lot extra to ask for,” said council member Cami Rasmussen. “I don’t want to turn voters away on the extras.” Rasmussen said one of the selling points for the property is that the city will be able to move right in.
“I don’t anticipate a lot of extravagant relocation costs,” noted City Administrator Cassandra Lippincott. Lippincott indicated the furnishings and furniture on the upper level of the building will be included in the purchase. Additionally, the city has recently been given chairs and desks from Pearson.
It’s more likely costs would be incurred for things like wiring, she noted.
The city will likely need a service counter, a drop box for utility bills and some sort of sign, suggested Stange, maybe a security system. “I do think we’re going to have some minor things, but I think what we’re selling people is we’re not going in and start ripping walls out and things of that nature,” Stange said.
Council member Brad Kunkel sided with Rasmussen temporarily, reasoning the city could get by until the next budget year on some of the costs.
But council member Sue Ballantyne wasn’t convinced it was going to make a difference.
“I find it hard to imagine the voters are going to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll vote for $1.3 (million), but I’m not going to vote for $1.35,” responded Ballantyne. “I don’t really think that’s going to tip the scales.”
“I don’t agree,” Rasmussen countered, “because we’ve been saying $1.3 (million), $1.3 constantly for several months now, and as soon as they see $1.35, it’s going to raise questions.” She supported including the bonding fees as a reasonable expense.
Ballantyne said the city could explain the minimal amount to voters before the election. “I don’t see why you want to cut yourself short,” she said. “There’s always something unexpected.”
Kunkel was eventually swayed to agreeing with $1.35 million for the ballot language.
Council members also wanted to insert the a description of the specific parcels into the ballot language.
The decision on how the bonds will be repaid is expected to come at the Sept. 14 meeting. The city intends to use a mix of Tax Increment Finance (TIF) funds and debt service levy to make loan payments, but the specific percentages from each source has not been agreed to.