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New Police Station, Court building advances
Council concerned cost higher than estimated
police station budget meeting haulmark pic
Great Bend Police Chief Steve Haulmark refers to a layout of the new Police Station and Municipal Court Building as he explains the Police Departments needs to the City Council Monday night. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

After months of waiting, the Great Bend City Council Monday night approved the conceptual design and budget estimates for the new Police Station and Municipal Court Building at 12th and Baker, and authorized city officials to move forward with the project, although the early draft of the plan exceeded original budget expectations.

However, the decision was not made without reservations by a skeptical council wary of balancing frills with the city’s long-term needs. In fact, the motion to proceed passed on a slim 5-3 vote.

“This is our first look at an overall cost,” said Chris Younger with Wichita-based McCown-Gordan Construction, the firm hired last September as a project manager. The council was presented with a master budget $383,829 over budget, but he stressed this is “a comprehensive accounting of the project costs. It is important to remember that this is conceptual and not the guaranteed maximum price.”

As presented  the total cost came to $8,083,387, higher than the project budget of $7,699,557, said City Administrator Kendal Francis. The sales tax-supported bond issue is expected to bring in $5,638,557.47 and that is being paired with $2,061,000 in city reserves to pay for the new facility.

The city administration suggested tapping Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security funds to cover the upfront cost overages. The new sales tax is expected to generate excess revenues, and those revenues can be used to replace CARES funding.

“Our team has been working to refine the layout and cost options,” Younger said. “There are significant contingencies built into the total project cost.”

These contingencies total $585,532 and include such things as a built in price increase based on the construction market, as well as design and construction costs. The planners rounded the figures up, but there is always the chance they could be lower.

The overall plan includes the Police Department and the Municipal Court, as well parking for staff and the public, said Mitch Cook with GLMV, the Wichita architectural firm hired last August. “We laid out the building to meet those needs.”

This schematic estimate is for construction of a new 20,100 sf single-story structure. 

Ward 2 Councilwoman Jolene Biggs was leery of the high cost. She suggested sending the plan back to department administrators to make some cuts.

But, “in my opinion, we are nickeling and diming this building,” said Mayor Cody Schmidt, who has been in on the planning meetings. “We have spent hours on this.”

There have already been some cosmetic features and equipment removed, he said. And, the longer a decision is delayed, the higher the costs could be.

Voting for the motion were Ward 1 Councilman Alan Moeder, Ward 2 Councilman Kevyn Soupiset, Ward 3 Councilman Cory Urban and Ward 4 Councilwoman Natalie Towns and Ward 1 Councilwoman Lindsey Krom-Craven. Voting against were Biggs, Ward 4 Councilman Brock McPherson and Ward 3 Councilman Davis Jimenez.

Younger said they should have a guaranteed maximum price by early July and bids would be let after that.  

In last November’s general election, voters approved a 0.10% city-wide sales tax for 20 years, “to finance the costs of police station improvements.”  The project was first addressed in 2016 when an engineering study for current police station on Williams Street was approved by the council. Championed by then-Police Chief Cliff Couch, there was discussion then that it would be preferable to start from scratch at a new location.

The idea was dusted off again in September 2020 when Francis brought up resuscitating the effort to replace the current 90-plus-year-old building.

Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Monday night:

• Held a public hearing on a dilapidated property at 2555 19th St. regarding a collapsed garage, and approved a resolution deeming it unsafe and dangerous. The hearing was set for this past Dec. 20, but was continued as the owner, who was in jail in Arkansas, requested more time. A follow-up letter was sent and the city received no response.

• Held a public hearing for a run-down house at 1923 Holland. A resolution was approved deeming it unsafe and dangerous.

• Set 6:30 p.m. March 21 for a public hearing for a property at 1210 Morton over a garage that safety officials feel is unsafe and dangerous.

The Code Enforcement Department and Building Inspector Logan Burns inspected the structure and have determined that it is dangerous. This was before the council on Dec. 20, but there is a lienholder who did not receive a mailing of the first resolution and this will allow that notice to be given, Code Enforcement Supervisor Art Keffer said. 

• Approve the conceptual design and budget estimates for the new Police Station and Municipal Court Building at 12th and Baker, and authorized city officials to move forward with the project.

• Approved a bid from Venture Corporation of Great Bend for $1,079,640.50 for the mill and overlay of approximately 13 blocks of Broadway between Polk and Morton streets, as well as the reconstruction of the intersection at 19th and Harrison. It was the only bid.

This project is partially funded by a Community Development Block Grant, which will reimburse the city 50% of eligible costs up to $600,000.

• Heard an update from City Administrator Kendal Francis. He focused on the effort to redistrict the city for City Council wards and the plans to improve Heizer Park.

• Approved a tree trimmers license for Maverick’s Tree Service (Maverick Riegel) out of

Great Bend.

• Approved changing the date for the next regular council meeting. The meeting falls on Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 21, which is a holiday observed by the city. They moved the meeting to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22.

• Approved abatements for trash and refuse violations at: 1814 Adams St., Steven Favela; 1015 Holland, Corky Moore; 1401 Jefferson St., Hilbert and Phyllis Herrman Revocable Trust; 804 Adams St., Tony Jones; and 1439 18th St., Steven Ehrlich.

• Approved abatements for vehicle nuisances at: 2214 Polk St., Alva McHenry; and 232 Maple St., Guadalupe Guzman.

• Held a 15-minute executive session to discuss the acquisition of property. No action was taken when the council reconvened in regular session.