October 11, 2007 in Voices

Voters to decide Old City Hall’s fate

By The Spokesman-Review
 

At a glance

The Post Falls City Council said that to keep Old City Hall, it would have to spend:

“$1.2 million to bring it to code, replace the leaky roof, recontour the campus to divert rain and melting snow from the building, move the new building’s utility lines and create 48 more parking spaces.

“$59,000 a year to maintain the building, not including the expense of buying new furniture to replace what’s being moved into the new building in spring.

When Post Falls’ voters head to the polls Nov. 6, they’ll be asked to vote on whether to spare Old City Hall from demolition.

The City Council unanimously agreed at a special meeting last week to put the item on the ballot.

However, it added a caveat: Voters will also be asked if they’d agree to pay additional taxes to cover the added expense of keeping and maintaining the structure.

The city is hoping the measure fails because it would cause a budget crisis.

Eric Keck, city administrator, told the council the city initially will need to shell out $1.2 million to bring the building up to code and make necessary improvements. An additional $59,000 a year will be required to maintain the building.

The issue came before the council after petitions circulated by Bob Templin demanded the city “preserve and maintain” the late 1970s-era building for use by social and civic groups.

Templin, founder of Red Lion Templin’s Hotel on the River, said he’s happy voters will have a say in the matter.

But the petition’s signatories, he said, didn’t include any reference to tax increases.

However, council President Scott Grant said the city will face a financial crisis if residents vote to keep the building but fail to approve a raise in taxes.

Should it come to that, Grant said, the city would be forced to lay off employees, including patrol officers, scale back snow removal, stop improving city streets and cancel capital projects.

Templin maintains the $1.2 million figure the city is tossing about is “totally exaggerated.”

He thinks future renters in the building would pay for many of the necessary improvements.

“They’re still looking at it from a negative standpoint,” Templin said of the council. “And I’m looking at it as an asset, and I still think it could be. I know if I owned the building, I wouldn’t tear it down.”

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