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'Final' city hall cost: $8.54 million

"And the number is...$8,543,628.Depending on who you believe, that's the final bill for development of the new city hall building and adjacent farmers' market square.This is well within budget, and well under some of the rumored costs that have been floating around the community, city Administrator Lynn Nordby told the city council Wednesday.In a report that surprised council members, Nordby released what was billed as final accounting for the project, although the report did note that several line items, including consultant fees, are still estimates. The numbers also were questioned by one city council member as having failed to take some costs into consideration.According to the administration figures, costs of the new civic campus break down like this:CONSTRUCTION: Pre-construction documents estimated that construction costs for the building itself would hit $5.36 million, but the bill came in at $4.73 million. That included such late additions as certified timbers. LAND ACQUISITION: In addition to condemning the former BP station/minimart where the city hall building now stands, the city also purchased the former pet store property on Ericksen Avenue, and a building that has since been razed. Total cost of land purchases: $1.375 million.MISCELLANEOUS: Other direct costs included furniture ($485,000, up from the initial projection of $392,000); signage ($18,000, down from the estimated $28,000); public artwork ($68,000, up from $53,000); and telephone system relocation ($46,000, with no money originally budgeted).Subtracting out non-city hall costs incurred in the project, like nearby sewer and street improvements that were already slated, the net cost was $7.72 million, Nordby said.I think the public out there should be reasonably happy with what we got, Mayor Dwight Sutton said Thursday.I've heard from several people who were rabid anti-new-city hall, who have fessed up in private and said it's not a bad building, Sutton said.But city council chair Merrill Robison, who had been hounding the administration for months for a final accounting of the project, Friday questioned whether the numbers included all costs associated with the project.In a memo to Sutton, Nordby and the rest of the council, Robison cited a number of areas he felt have been overlooked or simply left out. Among them: $200,000 spent in 1989 for the BPA property, part of which became the farmers' market square; court costs incurred in condemning the BP gas station property; landscaping; the cost of moving; and additional lease costs for the planning and engineering departments, incurred when the move-in date was pushed back several months. With all of the above, I think we are closer to $9 million, Robison wrote. My complaint all along is that we did not level with our stakeholders what the total cost of the 'civic center' would probably be.That notwithstanding, I'm very happy with the hall, and I expect it to do great wonders, Robison said in interview Thursday. Two years from now, we will be so happy that we spent that money. Now it's time to make government more efficient.Nordby was out the office Friday and was unavailable for comment."

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