City council approves another $2 million for renovation work

Belleville mayor gives tour of City Hall renovations

Mayor Mark Eckert discusses renovations at Belleville City Hall.
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Mayor Mark Eckert discusses renovations at Belleville City Hall.

Belleville aldermen Tuesday approved a plan to pay additional costs for the renovation of City Hall.

The plan to renovate City Hall and move the police department will cost $20.6 million, up 11 percent from the original estimate of $18.5 million.

The additional costs are primarily for City Hall improvements, and aldermen agreed to use TIF money from District 3 to pay for the City Hall work.

The police department has already moved to the former Bank of Belleville building at 720 W. Main St., and City Hall renovations began last fall. The work on City Hall, 101 S. Illinois St., initially was expected to be finished by early this year, with the goal of making City Hall compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and removing asbestos from the building that was dedicated in 1958.

The additional City Hall work totals $1.9 million and includes a new boiler and air chiller, removing asbestos and installing new roofs over the north and south buildings. The original plan included a new roof over the lobby. Other added costs include repainting the radio tower, replacing sidewalks along Illinois and Washington streets, adding a metal detector at the City Council chambers and utility line relocation.

Aldermen previously approved an $18.5 million bond issue to pay for the City Hall renovation and police department building.

The latest plan calls for an additional $2 million in financing to come from tax increment finance District 3. Aldermen previously approved using $1 million in TIF money and on Tuesday decided to include another $1 million in TIF money for the project in the 2017 budget.

The vote was 13-1 with Ward 2 Alderman Mike Buettner voting no and Ward 6 Alderman Bob White voting present. Ward 7 Alderman Trent Galetti was absent.

White questioned why this additional work was not included in the initial plans.

“I felt like the money was needed, but my concern was the way it got here. I really believe it should have been in the original presentation,” White said after the meeting.

Mayor Mark Eckert said that the additional work was “not kept a secret” and had been discussed with aldermen including White.

“It was all a matter of making sure we had the money,” Eckert said in an interview after the meeting. “We were trying to be frugal with our expenses to live within that original bond amount,” he told the council.

Buettner asked during the meeting why another source of money could not be used instead of TIF money and noted that the city doesn’t have the money to fix all the streets that need repairs.

Ward 4 Alderman Raffi Ovian said the new heating and cooling system will be more energy efficient and will save the city money in the long run.

Ward 3 Alderman Scott Tyler said he received information Tuesday that previous work done on a portion of the City Hall roof was still under warranty. Eckert said he will investigate the status of the warranty.

The City Hall renovation will not be finished until this summer, about six months later than the original estimate. In the meantime, City Council meetings are being held at Lindenwood University-Belleville.

In other business

The council unanimously approved the design plans for the proposed athletics complex at Althoff Catholic High School.

Althoff wants to raise $2.5 million for the athletics complex at 5401 W. Main St. The school has collected $1.6 million so far.

Althoff wants to build an outdoor athletics complex, so its sports teams can practice and play on its campus instead of at facilities across the region. The school also plans to renovate its second-floor library.