BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon City Council voted on the final design and budget for the Stockert Youth and Community Center’s long-awaited multipurpose building.
City council convened for a special meeting Sept. 21 to iron out the final details for the project. Mayor Robbie Skinner said the last time council discussed the new building was during the Aug. 11 public meeting, where the city asked the community what amenities they wanted the facility to include.
“We asked for some feedback, and we received some feedback from our community as to what we, as a community, collectively want to see in a new building to be constructed across the street and we have looked at the data, we have looked at the responses to the surveys,” Skinner said. “From a physical plant standpoint, it doesn’t seem like too much has changed, which is a good thing.”
Skinner kicked off the discussion by reiterating his opinion that the project should have a cap of $4 million.
“I went on record at the public meeting in August saying that I truly believe in my heart of hearts that we can put something together very nice for the community at a ceiling – an absolute financial ceiling of $4 million,” Skinner said. “If you look at the numbers as to what the City of Buckhannon can comfortably afford as [an annual] payment, guaranteeing that our revenue streams in Buckhannon and across West Virginia have a very high potential of shifting – and when I say shifting it could be being reduced.”
“We do not know what the state Legislature is going to do with business and occupation tax,” the mayor added. “We also do not know what’s going to happen in November if an amendment is passed that would drastically reduce our ad valorem revenues, which is property tax.”
Skinner clarified the project has been estimated to cost $3.5 or $3.6 million.
“I’m looking at it realistically,” Skinner said. “The interest rates went up again today, [and factoring in] building costs, we can’t predict the future. I don’t want the city to go over that threshold. That’s where I feel that our maximum needs to be.”
City council member Jack Reger said he was hesitant to borrow $4 million.
“The Colonial Theatre (Colonial Arts Center) is not finished; it must be finished, and we’re going to be funding that, we anticipate, maybe for two years until the Colonial Theatre itself becomes solvent, and we’re waiting to see if that’s going to happen in this current time of inflation, recession and economic uncertainty,” Reger said. “We have the Colonial Theatre sitting just a block down the street, and I’m all for a multipurpose facility, but I’m concerned that originally, I believe this was supposed to be a gym for multipurpose use, and all these other things are wonderful, but we must live within our means.”
Reger said he was in favor of borrowing $3.5 and utilizing the $500,000 that has been donated as part of the SYCC capital campaign to equal $4 million for the project.
“I’m not sure that we should use that as a down payment,” Skinner said. “I think we should save that; all of us understand construction projects [and] there are going to be things that happen. There are going to be pieces of equipment we didn’t anticipate, there are going to be additional costs for materials we just didn’t see because you can’t predict the future 100 percent when it comes to inflation and the cost of materials.”
Director of Finance and Administration for the City of Buckhannon Amberle Jenkins presented council with potential interest rates and how much the annual payment on a loan could potentially cost the city every year.
“I went with a 5 percent interest rate, knowing interest rates are changing, so this estimate is for $3.565 million, which is $229,000 each year for a 30-year payment, and then if it’s [a] 40 year [loan], it’s $206,000,” Jenkins said. “For $4 million, it came out to $257,674 for 30 years and $231,454 for a 40-year payment.”
City Recorder Randy Sanders said he thought it would be a good idea to borrow $4 million and save the money from the capital campaign.
“I think it would be prudent for us to look at financing $4 million and using what we have on hand as a cushion because you don’t know what the two-by-fours are going to cost every month; you don’t know what the bricks and mortar are going to cost in a month or two,” Sanders said, referencing the rising and fluctuating cost of building materials.
The first motion made by Sanders was to approve the concept as presented by the Mills Group for the Stockert Youth Community Center multipurpose facility. The motion was seconded by city council member David McCauley and passed unanimously. Sanders also made a second motion to create a cap so that no more than $4 million will be borrowed for the project. The motion was seconded by McCauley and passed unanimously. A description of the final plans for the building can be found in a previous My Buckhannon article here.