CAMANCHE — After months of consideration the Camanche City Council will begin negotiations with Bob Richeson to purchase a building that will serve as the new City Hall.
At a meeting on Tuesday, council members deliberated back and forth the pros and cons of making an offer on the former Camanche pharmacy, located on Seventh Avenue, owned by Richeson.
Although the vote wasn’t unanimous, the council eventually came to a consensus, voting 4 to 1, to allow city administrator Tom Roth to go ahead with the offer and ensuing negotiations.
City Attorney Thomas Lonergan acted as a driving force in favor of making the offer, saying that the opportunity will not stay alive forever and if the city wants to make a move on the building, now is the time.
“If you’re seriously considering that building, at some point an offer has to be made,” Lonergan said. “Do you want to start spending money on engineering costs, to find out what it’s going to cost to remodel before you even know if you’re going to get the building? I think that’s backwards.”
The biggest issue the council now faces is how the city will pay for the new building, and the future renovations that are necessary to make it a suitable city hall.
Councilwoman Linda Kramer continually asked the question of how the city will pay for it, noting that they have spent a substantial amount of money in the last several years on other projects throughout the community.
“We all agree that we need a new city hall, but I’m not going to sit here and say that I’m for it until somebody can show me where the money is coming from and how we’re going to do it and how we’re going to pay for it,” Kramer said.
Two options were brought to light by Roth at Tuesdays meeting. One would require either a referendum from residents or a reverse referendum allowing the city to borrow the money, and the other would be to pay cash for the building from the city’s reserve funds.
According to Roth and councilman Trevor Willis the city has the money available in reserves, for not only the purchase of the building, a $180,000 asking price, but also the necessary renovations which will be nearly $120,000.
“We have the money in reserves. We can pay cash for it and we don’t have to go through any (referendum),” Willis said. “But, I think $300,000 is a high figure. I think we can remodel it for less than $120,000 if indeed, we pay the full $180,000 to buy it.”
The next step for the council is to come to a decision to either pay outright for the building in question, or to take it to the people of Camanche for a vote.
If it is taken to a vote, the council would need to receive a 60 percent approval to move forward, a number council members feel would be difficult to achieve.