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City approves contract for new City Hall

By Jefferson Weaver, The News Reporter

An Asheboro firm faces one last hurdle before beginning construction on the new Whiteville city hall.

City council on Tuesday approved the bid award for Smith and Allen LLC for the $2.457 million to construct the new facility on the site of the recently demolished Whitley Building downtown. Smith and Allen was the lowest responsible bidder of eight for the project.

The total project cost, including demolition, site preparation, design and furnishing is estimated at $3.4 million. The city has dedicated a property tax increase as well as payments formerly used for other loans to help pay for the project. City staff also found a number of cost saving measures that have provided the city with nearly $1 million to apply to the project. The city will finance the balance through BB&T, pending approval of the contract by the Local Government Commission March 6.

“I don’t see any problem with that,” said Finance Director Colburn Brown.

Tim Oakley of Oakley Collier Architects, the firm overseeing the City Hall project recommended that the Smith and Allen bid be approved. The contractor has constructed numerous public facilities such as hospitals, schools and government offices, according to Doug Allen, one of the firm’s partners.

“We’re not as big as some of the other companies, but we take a lot of pride in any job we have,” he said. “One of the joys in this is to be able to go through a town 10 or 20 years from now and see a building you know you had a little part of.”

Oakley Collier and the contractor presented the city with several proposals to trim costs and improve the final product, Brown said. Among the changes are to install a metal roof, rather than 20-year shingles, and to use grant money to purchase the generator that will run the city hall during emergencies.

Brown also pointed out that by making the driveway between Columbus and Webster streets into a street, the city can use Powell Bill funding for some of the construction costs, as well as adding more mileage to the city’s Powell Bill listing. Powell monies are paid to municipalities based on the number of miles of public streets.

Smith and Allen planners also suggested that the city can save $50,000 by leasing outdoor lighting from Duke Progress Energy, rather than purchasing the lights and handling maintenance in house.

“Leasing the lights will produce significant savings long term,” Brown said.

The project is expected to take approximately 11 months after the city receives final approval from the LGC.

Brown said the city financial standing is excellent with the LGC, and with a clean fiscal audit, “we should breeze through this” part of the process.

Smith and Allen could begin preliminary work within days of the city’s notification of approval from the LGC.

Stuart Rogers