City police poised to relocate into new HQ

VERGENNES — Barring any last-minute setbacks, the Vergennes Police Department should be able to start moving into its new $1.75 million North Main Street headquarters by the end of February, City Manager Mel Hawley told Vergennes aldermen at their Tuesday meeting last week.
On Wednesday, Hawley said construction has remained on schedule, and he is at least cautiously optimistic about a completion date during the month’s final week. 
“We have a penciled ‘X’ on the calendar for Feb. 25,” Hawley said. “But it is in pencil.”
A few items on the project punch list might remain for police to work around, he said, but nothing major, while the project landscaping would wait until spring.
Before their meeting this past Tuesday, aldermen took a tour of the new 4,611-square-foot station, the cost of which includes the land purchase, design fees and permitting costs as well as bricks and sticks.
When they convened at the fire station, council members made one decision related to the new station, taking $27,000 from the city’s Tower Fund to cover unanticipated interest costs for the project.
Hawley said he had believed the first interest payment would not be due until the first anniversary of the project’s bond loan, but state officials told him the law requires at least two payments a year.
Aldermen had dedicated up to $100,000 from the Tower Fund — which is fed by cell phone companies who pay to hang broadcast equipment on the city’s former water tower near City Hall — to protect against project cost over-runs, and they agreed to cover the interest payment from that source.
Hawley also told aldermen the city could eventually get that money back, because the police station project is at this point about $30,000 under budget.
Hawley also reported that the city’s overall 2013-2014 spending is on track, even with the difficult winter.
“It just shows we’re budgeting for Vermont winters, not South Carolina winters,” Hawley said. “We’re fine there.”
Aldermen last week also adopted a city warning for Town Meeting Day on March 4. City officials said it will contain only balloting for elective positions and charitable requests, with only two changes in the latter: The Otter Creek Child Center will appear on the ballot for the first time, with a $1,000 request, and WomenSafe is increasing its request from $3,000 to $4,000.
There is, as the Independent reported last week, a five-way race for three council seats: former mayor Michael Daniels and former alderman Peter Garon are challenging incumbents Ziggy Comeau, Lynn Donnelly and Renny Perry.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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