Ann Arbor City Council OKs $1.1M cost increase for Municipal Center add-ons
That breaks down to $693,327 for security upgrades and $397,884 for audio/visual equipment that was not included in the original contract with Clark Construction.
Council Member Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, questioned the expenses before the council voted to approve them. He said they were hard to stomach at a time when the city is making deep cuts to the police department and laying off employees.
"I would rather have security on the streets than particularly inside the building," Anglin said. "We're letting police go while we're adding $1 million here right now."
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
The stated price of the project is $47.4 million, though the City Council has approved several expenses outside of the project budget that have added to its costs. Crawford said that was always the plan, though, and the project remains under budget.
Because the $1.1 million is a one-time expenditure, Crawford said, it does not affect the city's ability to hire police officers.
"This is what I'll call the personal property part of the project, which all along we've said is not included in the construction project — it is from the operating budget," Crawford said. "And so included in the budget for 2011 was the bulk of these expenditures."
Sue McCormick, public services administrator, said there was a "substantial debate" when Clark was first hired as to whether the city was going to have the magnetometers and other sorts of security measures that visitors to the police-courts building now see as they enter.
McCormick said it was decided early on that the city would fund those expenses through its general operating budget as needed.
Anglin still wasn't pleased with the explanation.
"I think we should have been honest about the fact that we were going to provide security and that this was a cost — a very large cost — that we were going to have to incur," he said.
Under a separate resolution Monday night, the council authorized spending up to $75,000 to equip the public areas and conference rooms of city hall — and the newly built Ann Arbor Justice Center next door — with both secure and public wireless networking capabilities.
The proliferation of wireless devices has increased tremendously in the last few years, and city officials say it's time to provide wireless access for city employees and visitors.
IT Director Dan Rainey said the investment will allow, for example, people who bring their laptops to City Council meetings to finally be able to tap into a city-provided wireless network.
The council approved a purchase order with Illinois-based Sentinel Technologies for $64,571, which is $80 higher than the low bidder, Farmington Hills-based Preferred Data Systems.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
The council also voted to approve a $35,830 contract with Illinois-based Industrial/Organizational Solutions Inc. to conduct an assessment of the Ann Arbor Police Department for the purpose of creating a promotional list for ranks of sergeant and lieutenant.
By June 2012, nearly 30 percent of police department employees filling positions at the rank of sergeant and lieutenant will be eligible for retirement, city officials say, and it's uncertain how many eligible employees will choose to retire when they become eligible.
"To ensure continuity of command, and in order to plan leadership succession, it is necessary to establish a promotional eligibility list well in advance of the date when these potential vacancies may occur in order to provide maximum flexibility and options for the employer," reads a memo prepared by Deputy Chief Greg Bazick.
Police Chief Barnett Jones told council members Monday night he predicts 16 or 17 members of the department could leave around 2013, some of them sergeants and lieutenants.
"It has been a long time since there's been a promotional exam for sergeants and lieutenants within the police department," he said. "And as the chief, I need to have the vision to look past the time we're currently in and look out into the future."
Jones said he understands the expense comes at a time when the city is cutting in the police department, and he said he wishes he could "just walk down the hallways and promote people," but he needs a formal process in place so everyone has a fair shot.
He added he believes it will be "one of the most important promotional exams in the history of this department — because of the times and because of the need for leadership." He said the assessment will include interviews and written exams.
The council also voted to approve the $30,990 purchase of high-definition portable live production equipment from Illinois-based Midwest Media Group.
The equipment will be used for production of programming for CTN's four cable channels, live streaming of public meetings and online Video-on-Demand web services.
The council also approved a $49,087 purchase order with Most Dependable Fountains Inc. for 13 ADA-compliant drinking fountains throughout the city. Six will replace fountains within areas of the downtown, while others replace fountains in city parks.