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E.C. Council Sets $56 Million Budget for New Projects
Abraham Campos, city Public Works director, explains infrastructure projects at the Feb. 4 El Centro City Council meeting. | William Roller photo

E.C. Council Sets $56 Million Budget for New Library and Police Station

EL CENTRO — The El Centro City Council on Feb. 4 approved projected budgets totaling $56 million for the city’s planned new library and police headquarters. The vote was 4-0 with Council Member Edgard Garcia absent.

The police station would be built on the site of the current station bounded by Broadway, and Main, 11th and 12th streets at a cost of $36 million. It was not immediately known where the police station would relocate during construction.

The library would be built at the northeast corner of a parking lot in front of the former shopping mall housing the current library on Imperial Avenue south of Villa Avenue. The cost would be $20 million.

Funding for the projects would come from bond sales and the coffer from Measure P, the half-cent sales tax approved by city voters in November 2016. The costs represent scaling back from original wish-lists for both projects.  

So far, $13.8 million has been realized from Measure P, reported Liz Zarate, assistant to the city manager. There was $9.7 million committed to city projects including park improvements, fire station 1 and 2 upgrades, and information-technology improvements.

City Police Chief Brian Johnson gave an update on building the new police station, stating several options were under consideration, including a three-story building up to 31,000 square feet.

“The point I want to drive home is the initial cost was $42 million,” said Johnson. “But we came up with some compromises (with consultant McClaren, Wilson and Lawrie, Inc.).”

Instead of three stories, there would be a main headquarters scaled back to 25,000 square feet plus an ancillary building of 21,000 square feet at the back. The ancillary building would house an evidence room and lab, supplies and maintenance, a firearms range, a K-9 unit, multi-use common room and future needs area.

Johnson noted the on-site firing range would save time and money from going to the Calipatria State Prison range as city officers currently do. Even though the Border Tactical range is in town, the U.S. Border Patrol frequently has it booked up and it is difficult to schedule time, Johnson explained. Also, using non-lead ammunition cuts the cost of power usage for ventilation in half.

New Library Also Scaled Back

For the proposed new library, the building was cut back from 25,000 square feet to 20,000, while the current space is just 13,000.

Revenue from Measure P generates $5 million annually and that will be for the above projects, explained Council Member Cheryl Viegas-Walker. So, with a projected cost of $20 million for the library and $36 million for the police station the city still needs to issue bonds to cover the entire costs.

Bonding capacity for the city is between $55 million and $60 million with proceeds between $44 and 49 million after deducting debt service expense that is about $3.5 million annually, explained Viegas-Walker. But no debt service payments would be required until the buildings are complete sometime in 2022.

“So we’ll sock away Measure P funds as they come in, hold that in reserve, which allows us to have capital to pay debt service when it comes due (after construction is complete),” said Viegas-Walker.

Sewer Repairs

In other action, emergency repair funds were authorized by the council for the Villa Main Sewer line. The panel voted 4-0 to approve a third change order of $28,161, bringing the total cost of the project to $530,243, explained Abraham Campos, city Public Works director in a presentation.

DPW was informed about a depression in the area between 12th Street and Imperial Avenue along the north side of a private structure, noted Campos.

“A video survey noted considerable ground water infiltration entering sewer main at a location directly below the slab settlement,” said Campos. “This is the main city line and it had the potential to result in a sink hole and affect (a) parking lot as well as city residents.”

The council originally approve emergency repairs in May. A contract was awarded to Nu-Line Technologies for $260,225 but the work to stop water infiltration was unsuccessful.

Change Order 1 for $42,205 also failed. Campos decided dewatering the area was the next viable option yet it was a costlier repair at $199,652. It was approved and aimed to perform dewatering wells and establish a sewer bypass.

“Dewatering lowers the ground water table to below the infiltration elevation so it allows repairs without water rushing into the pipe work area,” said Campos. “This operation succeeded. Then change order 3 was recommended to repair the settled slab to correct elevation.”

This story is featured in the Feb 06, 2020 e-Edition.

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