By Kevin M. Smith
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen Animal Shelter improvements and expansion were put on hold as the city’s Capital Improvement Committee questioned the project costs.
The committee sent the recommendation to the full Killeen City Council to appropriate funds from certificate of obligation bonds, but not to release the funds pending more research on the costs.
On top of the estimated $250,000 for the upgrades and additions, Jamail Smith Construction — the job order contractor — is requesting an architectural and engineering study estimated at $40,000.
“For $300,000 to $400,000 more, you can build the whole building,” Councilman and committee member Larry Cole said.
Don High, of Jamail Smith Construction, said the $40,000 is a worst-case scenario and the study could cost less in the end.
He also argued that the architectural and engineering study is important. High said things such as electrical engineering need to be assessed for the heating and air conditioning units.
“They (electrical engineers) decide what the distribution is going to be for the electrical system,” High said.
He also said soil tests need to be conducted to protect the structural integrity of the building by designing an adequate foundation. The $250,000 estimate for the total project cost is just that, an estimate, High said.
“The design on your facility, once it’s defined, we can give you hard numbers,” High said.
Cole argued that the design definition should not cost that much.
“I do not see the need for an 1,800-square-foot rectangular building to have an architect,” Cole said. “This is not rocket science, it’s not the police department (new station), it’s not that type of building.”
City Manager Connie Green said the $40,000 was an expected cost and could be paid for with bond money.
“It is within our financial plan to do this project with these amounts,” Green said.
The committee continued to show opposition.
“I’d like to see what these amounts bring to the table,” said Mayor Timothy Hancock, who also sits on the committee. “I didn’t have an architect to build my house where I live now — there’s a little more to it than this metal building.”
Councilman and committee member Juan Rivera concurred.
“I want to see it done, but I don’t want to see it done by spending so much money that’s unnecessary,” Rivera said.
The upgrades to the Animal Shelter, 3118 Commerce Drive, are being funded by $180,000 passed in a 2002 bond election.
The plans call for expanding the lobby, adding a “get-to-know” room where an adopter could interact with his or her potential new pet, an 1,800-square-foot metal shell building with heating and air conditioning for dogs, modular cages made from aluminum or stainless steel and cremation equipment.
Green suggested the committee table the recommendation until next month’s meeting while city staff researches other options.
“I don’t think that’s going to throw us off too much,” Green said about the timeline to complete the building.
The committee tabled the proposal.
The committee, on another agenda item, did send its recommendation to the council to fund the animal shelter renovations and additions. The committee gave the OK to reimburse the city for the expenditures with certificate of obligation bonds.
Included in that recommendation was $2 million in certificate of obligation bonds for projects including the over-budget animal shelter upgrades, purchasing a fire rescue truck and purchase of an aerial platform fire truck.
The aerial platform truck is estimated to cost about $1 million, the rescue truck is estimated at $300,000 and the remainder of the $2 million would be used for the animal shelter.
The certificate of obligation bonds, which are issued by the City Council, would be used to reimburse the city after it pays for these items. In contrast to the general obligation bonds, which must be approved by the voters to pay for specific items listed on a ballot, Green said the recommendation would mean the city pays for the items and is reimbursed with the bonds. The sale of bonds will be in October.
“If we wait that long, they will likely sell the rescue truck to another city and the platform truck will be more expensive,” Green said.
The fire rescue truck would replace the current rescue truck, also known as the “bread truck” because it resembles of a delivery vehicle more than an emergency vehicle.
The aerial platform truck would allow firefighters to reach up to 100 feet — about six stories — to rescue people trapped in a building by a fire.
“We’re just trying to get moving forward before the new fire station is open,” Fire Chief Jerry Gardner said.
The city plans to rebuild Fire Station No. 1, currently on East Avenue D, at a new location on West Cliff and build Fire Station No. 8 at East Trimmier near Stage Coach Road. The committee also approved a recommendation to use certificate of obligation bonds to rebuild Fire Station No. 1.
“This just keeps us clean,” Green said, noting voters did not specifically approve rebuilding the fire station to be funded by general obligation bonds.
The recommendations will go the full Killeen City Council for final approval.
Contact Kevin M. Smith at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7550