Council OKs $7 Million More in Debt for Work on the New City Hall
• Two Candidates Tried to Hold Reins on Spending for Plans They Said Need More Vetting
BY BILL KOENEKER
BY BILL KOENEKER
Despite the urging by two council candidates on the April 13 ballot to either forego moving forward or revising plans, the Malibu City Council this week gave the go-ahead to the latest cost estimates for the remodeling of the new city hall and approved the indebtedness of $7 million to make the $5 million improvements.
The additional $2 million is to fund a debt service reserve fund, capitalized interest on the certificates of participation for three years and the costs of issuing the certificates. A portion of the certificates will be taxable debt.
Council hopeful Mike Sidley told members they should wait on taking on any more debt and let the reconstituted council after the election decide.
“I urge you to delay until the April election,” said Sidley, who added, “You should wait and see what happens to decide what we really need to spend money on.”
The council candidate said the Civic Center septic prohibition might cost the city as much as $56 million and that could be a deciding factor if the city was forced to take on more debt.
However, council members were quick to point out that the $56 million price tag referred to the costs that an assessment district might have to pay for a sewage treatment facility in the Civic Center area recommended by the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The city would not incur debt or be required to pay for such a public works project.
Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich did get City Manager Jim Thorsen, who was explaining where the $56 million price tag came from, to acknowledge that the new city hall is in the septic prohibition area and would probably be part of any assessment district and obliged to pay into the district.
“That would be a utility bill,” said Thorsen.
Councilmember John Sibert, explaining his actions in response to Sidley’s challenge, said he was elected to make decisions and not to defer them. “This has nothing to do with April,” he said.
Earlier in the evening, the staff had delivered a new report estimating the cost of improvements to the new city hall.
Council members were told the latest preliminary construction estimate, which at one time was $1.1 million has skyrocketed to $4.6 million. The latest figure represents the preliminary costs for optional improvements at over $1.3 million.
The estimate was broken down by exterior site, building and interior elements, as well as base costs and optional costs. Elements that could be attributable to a sustainable design were indicated for council consideration.
Council hopeful Steve Scheinkman said he believes the council should call for a sustainability study, which could take a month, but could result in savings in the long run.
Mayor Sharon Barovsky said that sustainability concern is why the council chose LPA. Inc. “We choose this architect because of their sustainability [reputation],” she said.
Seven of the candidates took part in a tour conducted by Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich last week (see page 13), which meant that they had an opportunity to go through the complex and look at plan specifics.
Scheinkman also raised the issue of mildew—a whitish fungal coating, or mold—in parts of the city building. This was the first public reference to the presence of mildew in the new city hall.
Assistant City Manager and Administrative Services Director Reva Feldman said that city officials are aware of the mildew.
“There is mildew. But it is leaking from [interior] plants. The smell is there, but [the mildew] is not throughout the building,” she said.
Councilmember Jefferson Wagner said he was prepared to support the report with a proviso. He said he wanted LEED silver certified (green building) interiors that would add $150,000 to the costs.
Other members agreed and the report was then approved by all five council members.
However, there was a dissenting voice when it came time to approve the issuance of the $7 million in certificates of participation to finance the improvements.
Conley Ulich, who had urged the council to wait until firmer numbers were in place, complained there are still only estimates for the city hall improvements and not a budget.
“We still don’t know [the actual costs],” she said as she cast a no vote.