City Hall - Frequently Asked Questions
CITY Hall Repair or Replace F.A.Q’S
(Answers from Commissioner DeNeale and Staff)
After an inspection of the structure by our Building Official (in his capacity as a state certified official) and in agreement with several engineers, he determined that it is not safe to inhabit the building.
There are several reasons:
- Due to the age and construction of the building it is not cost effective to repair then maintain over the long term. The walls supported by 1960’s wood pilings and the old roof structure are major concerns. Pin pilings are also not considered a long-term solution.
- The elevation of the building is below the base flood elevation (BFE) and will be well below the new elevations soon to be released. The new requirements put the building more than 5 feet below BFE.
- If repaired, the building would still only be a cat 2 hurricane capable building and too low to be a refuge of last resort (hurricane shelter).
- It is the staff’s and consultant’s contentions that the structure is more than 50% damaged and City Hall is a “critical government facility,” requiring a new building to meet Florida Building Codes and FEMA regulations. If we do not build new, we could lose our FEMA discounts for all homeowner NFIP policies (15%) and could be told to demolish what we have repaired. The City would also be paying the maximum rate for flood insurance on City Hall.
The new design will provide all required functions for our government, post office and community center (Marble Hall) for well into the future and be resilient from hurricane winds and surge. It will provide a safe shelter for our resident’s and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for our first responders. The entire facility will be ADA compliant, cat 5 wind capable and much more cost effective to operate and maintain. It is a very beautiful design that will greatly enhance our City and should add to our property values.
Yes, the proposed layout by USPS was approved by the City Commission on February 18, 2021.
Yes, the Commission has had two votes, one to replace the building and another to approve the design. Both were unanimous. These decisions were based on recommendations from our Building Official, FEMA/Risk Assessment Consultant, Police Chief and Administrative Staff. More importantly, you, our residents provided excellent recommendations during several public meetings (specifically on the City Hall Project) and numerous regular commission meetings. Several key design requests came from you for the community center (Marble Hall), post office and office spaces. The new building is expected to cost $5 to $6 million.
Funding is going to be a moving target as we work with FEMA and the State on grants and navigate loan interest rate fluctuations. I have been constantly updating the Commission on my ideas throughout the course of our discussions and presented some to you at our Town Hall meeting last winter. In either case, I do not see a need for a large tax increase as being put forth by several of our residents. Remember, we upgraded our sewer plant at a cost of over $5 million without a rate increase, paid off our Irma debris cleanup loan and have saved over $3 million in reserves since Irma (cities accumulate reserves for capital projects like our City Hall). These are my (the Mayor) funding estimates as we work toward final approval from FEMA and FDEM:
STATE APPROPRIATION $ 150,000
FEMA NEW PROJECT GRANT/NFIP $3,000,000
CITY RESERVES $2,000,000
LOAN @ 2.25% $1,000,000 ($50,000 per year loan payments)
Even if we have to borrow as much as $3,000,000, we should be able to fund $150,000 per year in a $4 million budget. (An example of the current low interest rates, we are combining and refinancing the Sunset Park and Causeway loans from 3.25% to approximately 1.93%, saving KCB over $47,000 annually.) Therefore, we should be able to finance the project for a little or no tax increase.
- Work with FEMA and the State Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) to determine the scope of the project and grant funding.
- Contract with our architect/engineers to produce bid documents and building plans.
- Apply for other grants and request another state appropriation this legislative cycle.
- We hope to have all negotiations with the State and FEMA on funding complete in time to start the project in the Fall of 2021.