Oroville City Council holds preliminary budget hearing

Oroville’s city hall is slated for expansion in 2008 if the city can find the additional funding it needs to finance the project. Expansion would move the planning and building and permits departments out of the council chambers, where they currently oc

Oroville’s city hall is slated for expansion in 2008 if the city can find the additional funding it needs to finance the project. Expansion would move the planning and building and permits departments out of the council chambers, where they currently oc

OROVILLE – The Oroville City Council discussed a preliminary 2008 budget that is $92,505 more than the amended 2007 budget and still doesn’t include several items like city hall expansion, sewer improvements and a hoped-for airport grant.

Since the costs of these projects hasn’t been fully determined, the budget will be amended as the year goes on, said Deputy Clerk-Treasurer Karen Monroe, filling in for her boss Kathy Jones at the Nov. 20 council meeting.

Jones later explained by telephone that although the city hall expansion is estimated to be between $1.3 and $1.7 million, there are areas where that amount could be trimmed.

“We’ve talked with the engineers and those numbers are preliminary. Looking over the plans we’ve seen a lot of costs that could be eliminated… like tearing down the building, the city will be doing that,” said Jones, referring to the building just north of city hall.

Current plans, although not set in stone, would be to knock down the old building which the city’s public works department now uses as storage. That building has had several tenants over the years including a dry cleaner, a gun shop and a bookstore.

“Tentatively the plans are to tear down the building… it is currently not habitable and you can see through the walls in several places,” said Jones.

The expanded city hall would move the city planner and city building inspector/permit administrator out of the council chambers and into the main city hall building. It would also move out all the records currently stored in the council chambers, according to Jones.

“This would move Chris Branch and Christian Johnson and Superintendent Rod Noel into the city hall. The council would get their chambers back and there would be room for more seats,” said Jones.

The administrative and billings office would be expanded as well. “One reason we are looking at expanding is we could add another 400 to 600 water and sewer customers and we currently don’t have enough counter space to wait on the customers we have now. We also do not have the space to keep all the records we have now. The way it is currently it is hard to hear someone on the phone when there is a customer at the counter,” she said.

The old city hall was built in 1967 or 1968 and the council chambers were added in 1985, Jones says. The city has been putting aside money to help pay for the expansion, but it is not nearly enough to pay for the whole project, she adds.

“We are definitely going to have to seek additional funding,” said Jones. “We may try for a state loan known as LOCAL. We’ve tried to limit ourselves, but also to prepare for 20 years down the road to provide for adequate work space.”

LOCAL, Local Option Capital Asset Lending, is a program of the Washington State Treasurer’s Department. The program helps fund projects like Oroville’s city hall by bundling several projects statewide and selling bonds, according to Jones.

“We’ll still probably have to find other funding sources as well,” she adds.

Other improvements to the new city hall would include upgrades to infrastructure for power, phone and computer networking.

“When the project is finished, not only will the different departments be better connected, but a customer that has business with multiple departments will be able to find them all in one building, she explained.

Jones said any costs for upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant that exceed $100,000 are not in the preliminary budget, nor are any costs for expanding the Eastlake Sewer expansion over $100,000.

An airport grant may also be in the city’s future for improvements to Oroville’s Dorothy Scott International Airport.

“We know we are entitled to some grant money that is eventually coming, but we do not know the exact amount as of yet. When we know the 2008 budget can be amended to reflect the grant,” Jones said.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are the Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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