Edwardsville plans bond issue for new fire station


Bids for the new Edwardsville Fire Department East Station on Governors Drive have totaled just over $5 million.

The amount of the offer was announced Wednesday at a special meeting of the utilities committee.

City officials then had a nearly 25-minute discussion about the new fire station, a bond issue, what will happen to the current Montclaire fire station and other details.

The lowest bid came from Morrissey Construction at $5,041,000 while the other from RW Boeker at $5,067,000. SM Wilson’s third offer was not acceptable. An alternate bid to add a solar panel would be $76,000 from Morrissey and $78,000 from Boeker, so the lower total bid is $5.117 million.

The station will be located on the north side of Governors’ Parkway, just east of District Drive and Oglesby Road. The station will include three vehicle bays and will encompass 8,400 square feet on just under two acres of land donated by the family who live east of the future fire station.

Director of Public Works Eric Williams said a fourth bay was desired until the city learned it would add $660,000 to the price.

Groundbreaking should take place at the end of August, the station should open between February and August 2024.

Financial director Jeanne Wojcieszak reviewed the station’s financing plan. The construction bid of $5,117,000 plus $75,000 to develop the site; $222,839 to outfit the interior of the station with fixtures, furniture and equipment; and $1.35 million for a new ladder truck arriving in October. She noted that approximately $532,000 is currently available in the public safety facilities line item. She added that to date, the city has paid cash for all architectural and engineering costs, as well as land acquisition costs, amounting to $150,000.

Additionally, this fundraising plan will finally tackle the “echo factor” at the campus fire station by installing soundproofing for $50,000.

Williams said he and fire chief James Whiteford have been working since October with the architectural firm designing the station and have seen building material prices rise since then. Williams and Whiteford began trimming the “fat” of the project in April. Williams said the new station will be within a few hundred square feet of the SIUE campus fire station, which opened in April 2017.

“We tried to use materials that were much more cost effective than the campus station,” Williams said. “Less materials, fewer contractors. On this one, we want to do a lot of masonry materials. The campus station has four different types of materials.”

The lowest bid is around $600 per square foot. Williams said the solar panels would save the city about $3,000 a year in electricity costs.

City officials then began a lengthy discussion about issuing general bonds to pay for the station and its ancillary needs. Wojcieszak said if they opted for the full bond amount of $7 million, there would be 20-year debt service and level payments. She said the level payments make it easier for the city to forecast cash flow needs.

Hilltop Securities is the city’s financial advisor. After meeting with the city and going through various financing scenarios, Hilltop advised waiting until at least the end of October to issue bonds. It would come after the Federal Reserve wraps up its meeting, makes further inflationary changes and issues a request for proposals to around 35 regional lending institutions.

Once responses are received, Hilltop will identify the top three to five and present them to the city before moving to the finance committee for voting and then to city council. Wojcieszak said the city hasn’t publicly sold bonds in a long time, preferring to go the direct sale route. Hilltop advised a rate of four percent, which equates to annual debt service payments of $525,000.

One facet that remains unknown is how much money the city will receive for the sale of the Montclaire fire station, which dates from 1969 and is home to just two firefighters. City Administrator Kevin Head previously said the building would have sold for between $300,000 and $400,000 before council voted to keep it open without making any major investments. Head said he’s still gathering information and assessing the situation, so the city will have sales numbers later.

Head said there was a surplus, about $12 million, in the city’s general fund and that the city’s balanced-funds policy allows amounts as low as $6.5 million in that funds, however, there is a question of how much the full board would feel comfortable spending on the project. This will dictate the final amount of the bond issue when the city issues it in late October or early November. City Administrator Kevin Head said council members have options to pay for this and he reminded everyone that the debt on the city’s public works building will be paid off in December.

Ultimately, the committee recommended acceptance of the winning bid and that the bids be forwarded to the Administrative and Community Services Committee with a favorable recommendation. Alderman Janet Stack and Jennifer Warren attended in the absence of Alderman Chris Farrar.


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