Edgerton voters OK new city hall
Voters on Tuesday narrowly approved a referendum allowing the city to 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.
Mayor Erik Thompson, a strong supporter of the project, was thrilled with the results.
"It's such a positive thing for the city," he said. "It's going to help move Edgerton forward, which is one of the things we've needed for a long time."
He said a new building will give the impression to residents and visitors that the city cares about its appearance.
Alderman Mark Wellnitz, who believes the city should wait to build a new facility until the economy improves, was disappointed.
"It just goes to show the community spoke up and will get what the majority wants—which is how it's supposed to work," he said.
The city has discussed its need for a new facility for years. Architects and engineers have said the existing 3,100-square-foot building lacks space and needs significant repair.
The most recent push for a new building started in summer 2007, when a mason told officials 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 a new facility
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.
Thompson said the city is almost done paying for previous capital projects, so the new project won't raise property taxes.
He said now is the perfect time to build because building costs and interest rates are low and federal stimulus dollars and grant money is available.
But Wellnitz, who took office the day after the council voted to go to referendum, has argued the city should wait to tackle the project. He said there are a lot of people in the community who are struggling to make ends meet and probably couldn't absorb the costs of a new facility.
"They say it's not going to raise taxes, but it's still going to have to be paid for by the taxpayers," 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.
"A lot of people saw the need for (the new building), and they saw the financing and the time were right to do it," he said.