New city facilities in Commerce over-budget

Commerce – The Commerce City Council heard a financial report last night covering options for additional funding for city facilities that have initial estimates coming in up to $750,000 over-budget. In 2003, Commerce citizens approved a bond proposal for $2.75 million for a new Police and Fire complex and $2.2 million for a new City Hall. A press release by the city cites rises in construction costs as much as 30% as a large part of the project being over-budget.

The Council heard a report involving dipping into reserve funds to cover $250,000 of the additional cost, and using debt service to provide the rest. The debt service would mean a slight increase in the tax rate.

Former council member Quay Throgmorton was on-hand to express his displeasure with considering over budget options, and council member Hector Arce was also unhappy the project was already over-budget.

ARCE: I have a hard time spending over our budget. Before we even break ground, we're over-budget. And that just kills me. I mean, we can't build a building for 4.3 million dollars.

Mayor Sheryl Zelhart said that all possibilities should be explored.

ZELHART: What we're trying to do with this presentation tonight, is just look at any eventuality that would come up; and how to plan for that and how to cover that.

Council member John Sands emphasized the need to work with available funding.

SANDS: We as a council cannot punish the citizens of this community for us not being in-step with what is going on. We as a council have got to bring this project back to the money we borrowed...they borrowed.

Even with additional debt service to help cover a half million of the $750,000 the project is could be over-budget, City Manager Bill Shipp said the final tax numbers would actually be less than originally proposed in the bond issue. He also said the extra funding would be minimal to the overall budget.

SHIPP: You hate that its any over-budget, and I understand Councilman Arce and Councilman Sands points very well; but on the other hand, five hundred thousand dollars is....less than ten percent of the total budget for the projects.

Commerce officials continue to work with architects and contractors in attempts to bring the project down in final cost.