Lower Burrell awards almost $3M in contracts for City Hall project
Lower Burrell Council voted unanimously Monday to approve $2.8 million in spending for the long-anticipated renovation of City Hall.
The biggest chunk of money will go to Arcon Contracting of Lower Burrell, which bid $2,015,000 to be the project’s general contractor. Arcon beat out 11 other bidders.
Other contracts awarded by council included one for plumbing work by McRandal Co. of Blawnox for $267,200 and another for electrical work by Oakmont’s Merit Electric Co. for $519,800.
Council decided to seek new bids for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and other mechanical work because previous bid documents were unclear.
Mayor Rich Callender said he expects all contracts to add up to about $3.1 million. Even with potential cost overruns, Callender said the project should wind up costing less than the initial $3.7 million estimate.
“Any money left over, we’ll put that back onto the principal and reduce our bond payment,” Callender said.
The project, expected to get underway in April and last about a year, is a big one for the city.
The estimated cost represents about half of the city’s $6.7 million operating budget for 2019.
This is the city’s first major renovation project in almost 25 years.
Council raised real estate taxes in 2017 in anticipation of the project, and then earlier this year floated a $4.5 million, 30-year bond to pay for it.
The city has been considering the renovation since officials learned more than eight years ago that they weren’t meeting federal requirements for storing evidence in the police department, Callender said.
The police station also doesn’t have a lockup. As a result, it pays New Kensington thousands of dollars annually to house prisoners before they are transferred to the Westmoreland County jail.
Other city departments have had space issues as well.
The public works department couldn’t fit its work truck into its garage, and office space and lockers for public works employees have been inadequate, Callender said.
The city also wanted to consolidate its tax office with its administrative offices for residents’ convenience. Currently, the tax office is in a separate building across Schreiber Street, which is slated to become a community building.
Work will start with construction of a pole building for the public works department to house its equipment in an area across from City Hall, where there now is a basketball court that isn’t used much.
When public works moves out of the ground floor of City Hall, contractors will gut that space and renovate it for the police department.
Contractors then will convert the former police space on the first floor into the tax office and update the city’s administrative offices. They will then convert the tax office building into a community building.
Amy Rockwell, city administrator, said Lower Burrell is planning for a 15 percent overall contingency for things such as cost overruns. Other costs not approved Monday include architect fees, engineering fees, security and access controls and IT networking.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .