Work crews were busy last weekend planting trees and shrubs around the Berea Municipal Police and Fire Safety Building as part of an effort to complete the new facility by early November. Despite significant re-adjustments in the initial plan, the project is still under budget as of September.
At a September meeting of the Berea City Council, Finance Director Susan Meeks explained that from a financial standpoint, the city could not have picked a better time to build the facility, which has been designed to accommodate the needs of local government for the coming decades.
Meeks noted that just two years ago, the city was making $800,000 payments in debt service. Once that debt was paid, however, the city began putting money away in the city’s Capital Reserve Fund, much of which has been used to pay for the new building. “We are in a very good position, and this was the ideal time to take on a project,” Meeks explained. Additionally, interest rates are currently very low, thus reducing the cost of financing the project.
Additionally, because the city opted to purchase certain supplies instead of leaving that to the contractor, the city realizes a tax savings of well over $200,000.
The total cost for the building is projected to be $12,755,384 despite two major adjustments to the building plan. When the original parking lot was dug up, workers discovered the foundation had to be filled in with stone before it could be repaved. That cost approximately $121,000
Additionally, when construction first begin, it was planned the basement of the building would be an Emergency Operations Center for the Madison County Emergency Management Agency. When the county opted for another location, however, the basement had to be reconfigured. Instead, the city will be getting an additional meeting space, and it can be employed as an emergency storm shelter. An additional $80,000 was required to replace the aging elevator as well.
Officials said the building will feature a number of benefits, including:
A lower ISO insurance rating will result once the Berea Fire Department moves into the centrally located Chestnut Street station, potentially lowering residential and commercial insurance rates;
A more secure, more citizen-accessible police facility that affords more privacy for citizens filing police reports;
Better facilities for first responders, including living quarters, locker room facilities, and training facilities which will also better accommodate female personnel;
Greater government efficiency and communication once all of the city departments are under one roof;
More convenient service location for the public when Berea Municipal Utilities offices move to Chestnut Street.
Berea City Councilman Jerry Little said he is impressed with the value the city has gotten from the architects and builders so far. “When it’s done, anybody who says it’s not well-built doesn’t know anything about construction,” Little said.