City officials said inflation has increased the cost of planned renovations of the Upper Arlington Police Division headquarters and city attorney’s office by roughly $800,000.
Last fall, when Upper Arlington officials were setting the budget for 2022, it was expected to cost approximately $2.1 million to remodel the two spaces at the city’s Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road.
By Feb. 23, the city received a bid by Elford Inc. to perform the work for approximately $3.3 million, and a bid from Setterlin Building Co.’s for $3.4 million.
An April 11 staff report from Assistant City Manager Jackie Thiel and Brian Mastin, the city’s facilities manager, said the spike in costs is due primarily to “the volatile materials and labor market.”
On April 18, Upper Arlington City Council unanimously approved a contract for approximately $2.9 million with Elford for the project. It included a $208,711 reduction from Elford’s original because the company is offering several discounts: one for $46,208 since the UAPD and city attorney’s office upgrades will be done simultaneously and another for $89,763 because floors will be patched for utility work instead of being replaced with new subflooring.
City’s administrators also opted to postpone replacing the exterior windows at the MSC until the 2023-24 budget cycle, which reduced the contract by about $175,700.
Prior to council’s approval, City Manager Steve Schoeny recommended moving forward with the contract despite the increase in costs over the initial estimates.
“Folks thought that the COVID impacts were going to impact the construction market like a hurricane,” Schoeny said. “So a temporary shock to the system, a spike in prices and things would come down.
“What has changed is it has been a continued inflation and inflation has gotten pretty extreme,” he said. “As we talk to folks, there’s not a sense that prices will come back down.”
In addition to concern that construction costs may continue to rise, the April 11 state report said the renovations will enhance the overall security of the MSC.
During council’s April 11 discussion, council members Kathy Adams, Michaela Burriss, John Kulewicz and Jim Lynch expressed concerns about the rising costs of the proposed project.
Lynch said he supports “the merits” of the project, but is concerned the increased prices could cause additional problems as Upper Arlington seeks to cover its approximately $55 million share for construction of a community center at Kingsdale Shopping Center.
“The heartburn for me is just the cost overruns on this,” Lynch said. “In the back of my mind, I just keep thinking about the community center. I want to bring this to fruition, but I’m going to have to give this some serious thought over the next week.”
Finance Director Brent Lewis said the city is “not running out of money” and Schoeny said the $800,000 increase for the renovation project wouldn’t affect the community center project.
Police Chief Steve Farmer said it’s becoming increasingly competitive to hire police officers and civilian employees and suggested that a modernized headquarters would help the UAPD keep pace with other departments.
“You want people to come to work and feel positive and feel like they’re valued,” Farmer said. “In (the UAPD) side of the building … it’s dreary.”
After touring the existing police department space following the council meeting, Kulewicz and Lynch said they were more supportive of moving forward with the renovations.
Kulewicz said he saw better police facilities during his travels to Africa and India, and Lynch called the UAPD’s current office space “embarrassing.”
The remodeling project is expected to begin this year.
While the work is being done, the UAPD’s command staff, detectives, civilian administrative professional, records custodian and crime-analyst officer will move from police headquarters to the former Upper Arlington Schools District Office, 1950 N. Mallway Drive and the city attorney’s office will be relocated within the MSC.