Future of City Hall rests with Edgerton voters
It all depends on how many people show up to vote on a referendum Tuesday, a day when no other elections are taking place.
"A lot of people are interested in the issue, and they express their opinions about it, but whether that translates to whether they're going to go vote, that's a different story," said Alderman Mark Wellnitz, an opponent of the project.
Voters will decide Tuesday if the city can spend up to $1.2 million on a new facility to be built in the parking lot next to the existing building at 12 Albion St.
Edgerton has discussed a new facility for years, if not decades. Architects and engineers have said the century-old, 3,100-square-foot building lacks space and needs significant repair.
The most recent push started in summer 2007, when a mason told officials that the walls of the existing building need to be rebuilt.
The city formed an ad-hoc committee in February 2008. The committee and an architectural firm looked at five options:
-- Renovating the existing facility
-- Moving into Fulton Square
-- Moving into the Veterans Building
-- Moving into an old tobacco warehouse
-- Building new
The committee recommended building a new, 5,000-square-foot building on the corner of Albion and Fulton streets.
City officials have said the city could borrow $1.2 million for the project without raising taxes. They estimate the owner of a $100,000 home would pay $28.10 a year toward the project in property taxes.
Wellnitz, who took office the day after the council voted to go to referendum, believes the city should wait until the economy improves to tackle the project.
He said a pamphlet the city sent to residents was one-sided and might sway some votes. He still believes residents will vote the project down, he said.
Mayor Erik Thompson, a strong supporter of the project, believes the referendum will pass.
"I think there's enough people out there that recognize the need for it," he said.
Thompson hosted four open houses at City Hall to discuss the referendum. The open houses didn't draw big crowds, but they provided people who came with solid information, he said.
"The people who have toured City Hall have been kind of surprised by how small City Hall is," he said.
One couple questioned the financing, he said. He told them the city should build now to save on material, labor and interest costs.
"They looked at it and said, ‘Hey, now is the time to do it,'" he said.
Thompson said he has no idea how many people will vote.
The successful 2004 library referendum drew nearly 1,000 people. Thompson said he would be happy with 750 or 800.
"Whether you're for it or against it … you have a civic right to go out and vote, and I hope people take that opportunity," he said.
Edgerton residents will vote Tuesday on whether or not the city can borrow up to $1.2 million for a new City Hall. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Edgerton Public Library, 101 Albion St.