Bonney Lake moving ahead with new public works facility

The Bonney Lake City Council is preparing to move forward on plans to build a new public works facility and yard at the site of the city’s peaking storage facility on 96th Street East.

City officials plan to construct a new, $11 million to $13 million building and yard to replace the current facilities, which are located behind city hall and are inadequate to serve the needs of a growing city.

According to Public Works Director Dan Grgsby, the current yards were built when the city’s population was approximately 8,000, about half of the current number of residents.

“We’ve got a lot more utility lines n the ground and lot more roads to maintain,” Grigsby said, adding that the present yard gets so stacked with vehicles at night that getting to the one you need can be difficult.

“If you need a vehicle during an emergency … you have to move several vehicles to get to it,” he said.

Work on a new facility has been under way for several years, but the plan was shelved in 2009 following the economic collapse in 2008.

But work has begun anew and councilmembers on Feb. 7 heard a presentation about the new yard from Rex Bond of ARC Architects.

According to Bond, the new yards and buildings are designed with a population of 40,000 in mind, meaning the new facility would be good for the foreseeable future. Along with an administration building, heated garages, covered parking bays and storage areas, the design contains land set aside for a potential police impound yard and room for an animal control area, should the city sometime in the future opt out of the Metro Animal Control contract and go it alone.

Bond said estimates on the construction ran near $14 million – including $7 million in site requirements, such as an on-site retention pond and the removal of dirt, as well as the leveling of the land – but includes items that can be taken out as needed, leaving the amount closer to $11 million.

But Bond also said that estimate is from 2010 and current estimates show a bigger savings because of a slump in the construction industry.

Funding for the project would come primarily from money “squirreled away” during the past few years as well as a utility bond that would require approval from voters, said City Administrator Don Morrison.

At the end of 2012, the money set aside for the project is expected to be $7.2 million.

“We’ve taken some funds in each of the past three budgets and … set them aside … to begin financing for the buildings,” he said.

Even with the public works shop funding set aside, all three of the city’s utility funds that would contribute to the building have high “retained earnings,” or fund balances.

At the end of 2011, the city’s water fund had a balance of more than $154 million while the sewer utility had a balance of more than $7.3 million and the stormwater utility had a balance of more than $840,000.

Councilmember Jim Rackley said with interest rates being at a record low, the city should move ahead with the project as soon as possible to take full advantage in their borrowing power.

“If we’re going to do this, we need to get it started now,” he said.

Most of the council agreed with Rackley, with Councilmember Mark Hamilton suggesting the city borrow more than half of the amount as a way to retain the saved cash for any issues that may come up.

Following the discussion, there seemed to be consensus on the council to move forward with the project.

“This is a strategic piece of the puzzle that we need to be doing for the city,” Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman said.

The new facility is at least three years from completion.