Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Dixon Council approves expansion of City Hall

Dixon Council approves expansion of City Hall

By David Henson/Staff Writer
Looking at plans for the second time this year, the Dixon City Council laid the foundation Tuesday night for an eventual expansion of City Hall that will more than double its size.

With a 5-0 vote, council members placed the $3.5 million cost estimate and schematic design for the 11,606-square-foot expansion into the city's five-year capital improvement program.

The city currently is recalculating the fees it charges developers and the new estimate for the City Hall - roughly double a figure from the 1990s - will be a factor in any increase in those fees to help fund the expansion.

"This is why it is important to do this now," said Mayor Mary Ann Courville.

Tuesday's approval also paves the way for the city to solicit bids on the project, according to city documents. Several council members seemed reluctant to pin a time frame on the project, saying it could be several years before the city begins construction.

"We're not suggesting to start building tomorrow or next year or even four years from now," City Manager Warren Salmons said. "We're saying let's acquire the resources to do it."
Councilman Mike Smith, however, seemed to disagree.

"If we approve this, that means we're going to build it," he said. "The only problem I see is that by the time we start building it, it will be too late."

City workers already are too cramped, he said, later suggesting the council look at temporary solutions to the space problem.

When criticized for approving the project because city staff recommended it, Vice Mayor Gil Vega quipped that previous city councils had the foresight to "rubber stamp" new construction for the police and fire departments as well as the current council chambers.

"Dixon is not going to stop developing, so I guess we'll just have to 'rubber stamp' ourselves into the future," he added.

An expanded City Hall would place the engineering department in the same building as its co-workers for the first time in 15 years. Plans call for more room for future new staff members in the community development, planning and engineering departments, as well as creating a multi-purpose room accessible to the public.

The cost estimate and plans were developed through a space-needs analysis and interviews with city staff, but Councilman Steve Alexander questioned the breakdown of needs and whether it was necessary.

Responded Salmons, "Let's say we're off by four or five positions. The worst that happens is the space doesn't get used until later."

David Henson can be reached at

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