Bank will be new city hall

Bank will be new city hall by David Lias Community First National Bank and the city of Vermillion have come to terms.

The bank has agreed to sell its building, located downtown on the corner of Church and Main streets, to the city for $1.1 million.

The bank building, constructed in 1981, will become Vermillion's new city hall.

In a resolution approved Tuesday night by the Vermillion City Council, aldermen also approved the setting aside of up to an additional $1.1 million for remodeling the structure.

Councilman Dan Christopherson made it known that he believes that is the wrong approach to take.

"I'm in favor of purchasing the building because we've looked at other options," he said. "The thing that concerns me is the remodeling costs. I really believe they are way out of line, and that our citizens would not to spend 1.1 million additional dollars on a building that's already in great shape."

Community First National Bank officials communicated their interest in selling its building to the city in May.

Bank officials also noted at that time that Community First has no intention of leaving the Vermillion community, whether or not the city purchased its building.

Christopherson said he would prefer taking any reference of remodeling out of the purchase resolution.

"I think we should buy the building, and then do the remodeling separately," he said. "If we could use local contractors, local architects, we could cut that (cost) way, way down and still have a fine facility."

Mayor Roger Kozak and City Manager Jim Patrick noted that the resolution calls for remodeling costs to not exceed $1.1 million.

"I don't believe we're spending $1.1 million on remodeling," Kozak said. He added that any improvements to the structure would be let on competitive bid, and would have to receive approval from the city council.

"The part that bothers me is that when we tell an architect, and he sees in this plan that we have up to $1.1 million, you know what his bid is going to be," said Alderman Kevin Annis. "It's going to be right there, and that's the part that bothers me. What would happen if we tell an architect that we want to spend $400,000 or half a million dollars? What kind of a project could we come up with?"

"Having that $1.1 million in there gives an indication that we aren't going to spend more

than that," Alderman Tom Davies said. "By giving an amount not to exceed, there's nothing to stop us from breaking that figure down into various components. I think the $1.1 million (limit) gives us a little extra protection."

"I think we have to understand that the architect doesn't build the building," Kozak said. "They put together the plan that is put out for everyone to bid on. I don't care what number you dangle out there � if they want the job, they're going to have to sharpen their pencils and bring a bid at a price that they believe they can still make a profit. It's competitive."

Patrick told aldermen Tuesday that the resolution they were considering was legislative in nature, meaning that citizens could refer it to a public vote.

"It covers not only the purchase of city hall, but also its renovation, which would include any remodeling or adding on," he said. "The reason we put $1.1 million as a budgeted amount is we took our budget proposal and the second city sales tax, took out $1.1 million, and that was left.

"If you're looking at a legislative action, you need to have a not to exceed number that the population of the city can look at and get an idea of where we are going and what it is going to cost," he said.

The city has set Sept. 30, 2004 as a proposed closing date on the building purchase. This will allow Community First National Bank approximately a year to find a suitable location to relocate in Vermillion.

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