ST. GEORGE — As St. George continues to hire additional staff to keep up with the city’s exponential growth, city officials say an expansion of government office buildings has become a necessity.
During a public meeting Thursday evening, the St. George City Council endorsed an application for a low-interest bond to partially fund a $15.5 million expansion of the downtown city campus on 200 East, including City Hall, the police station and the City Commons building across the street.
The City Hall building is nearly 40 years old, and the police station, which serves as the St. George Police Department’s headquarters, is over 20 years old. St. George Budget Director Deanna Brklacich said both are now “bursting at the seams” with personnel and some employees have had to be moved to satellite locations throughout town to keep pace with growth.
“We’re now at a point where it’s difficult to hire additional public safety, development services, human resources, utility representatives and our general government support services in order to keep up with those growth and demands,” Brklacich said.
The city hired an architectural firm to make expansion recommendations and determine how to do so cost-efficiently. The firm, Salt Lake City-based JRCA Architects, recommended that expansion plans accommodate for the next 20 years of projected population growth.
“Like the rest of our infrastructure, you do have to expand with growth,” Mayor Jon Pike said, explaining that the city settled on the more frugal option of expansion rather than the much more costly alternative of building an entirely new campus.
Current expansion plans include building additional office space with room to grow in all three buildings. The project is anticipated to be completed over two years in three phases, the first of which is set to begin this year.
The first phase of the project is estimated to cost about $3 million, which the city currently has on hand. Expansion plans for this phase include reconfiguring the campus’s parking lot and adding an additional 50-60 parking stalls. The police station’s dispatch center will also be completely relocated to the City Commons building in a space that previously served as a court room.
The City Hall expansion will take place in phase 2, and the police station will be expanded in phase 3.
The outstanding $12.5 million for phases 2 and 3 is anticipated to come from a bond issued by the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board.
The terms of the bond include a 20-year repayment plan with a 2.5% interest rate. The city may also pay back the loan early with no penalty.
A major source of revenue the city plans to draw from in order to service the debt will be from impact fees generated by new construction.
“It’s being paid by those that are moving into St. George,” Councilman Ed Baca said.
The City Council voted unanimously to endorse the bond application. If the city’s proposal is accepted, the terms of the loan will come back to the City Council for approval prior to the funds being disbursed later this year.
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