The City of Richardson has called for a bond election to raise $46 million to go toward replacing the Richardson City Hall, which has been vacant since it was damaged by fire in August, 2022. Using the numbers provided by the City, I put pencil to paper to see if I could get the City's figures to add up. Follow along with me.
Quotes are from the City of Richardson's web page "City Hall Bond Election". There are four I am trying to reconcile.
1.) "$46 million proposition would be added to insurance settlement and prior voter-approved bond funds to replace the facility that was shut down after a fire last August."
2.) "Currently, the cost to repair, restore and complete previously planned renovation of City Hall is estimated at $60 million. The cost to replace City Hall with a new building is estimated at $85 million."
3.) "Renovation funds in the amount of $22.4 million come from a 2021 referendum."
4.) "The current insurance settlement is estimated at $16.5 million."
Does this pencil out? $16.5M (insurance) + $22.4M (2021 bond) + $46M (2023 bond) = $84.9M. That matches the $85M the City says a new building will cost. So, with that math, it does pencil out. But wait.
What do we get for the $46M bond? How does it compare with what we could get without the new bond? Without it, we still have the $16.5M insurance settlement and the $22.4M from the 2021 bond for renovations, for a total of $38.9M. For that money, we could repair all fire damage ("The City anticipates being fully reimbursed for all fire-related damages"), and we could "complete previously planned renovation" from the 2021 bond. We could do all that for $38.9M.
Where does that $60M figure come from? Remember, from statement 2 above, the City says that the cost to "repair, restore, and complete previously planned renovation" is estimated at $60M. That's $21.1M more than the $38.9M that we just figured would cover all that. What were we planning that we were $21M short? Not on the City's bond page, but presented at the January 23 City Council meeting, the City presented three unfunded proposals for additional renovations, over and above what was funded in the 2021 bond, with estimated cost of $16M. With expected inflation, that probably gets us up to the $21.1M that's unaccounted for in the $60M figure for repair and renovation of the existing building instead of building a new one.
There is still the difference between $60M and $85M to explain. What more does that additional $25M buy us? A new City Hall, but what will that look like? All I've seen is that artist rendition above. There's a lot TBD. All we know we'd be getting is a new, big orange box with these specs: "95,000 GSF, 2 to 3 floors." That's versus a repaired "84,000 gross square foot building built in 1980." But at least we have a pretty good idea what a repaired and renovated City Hall will look like. I need to learn more about the plans for the new home for Richardson's government before I can decide whether I think it's a good deal for taxpayers. Unfortunately, design work won't begin unless voters approve funds for even that starting point. Taxpayers will have to vote for something sight unseen. It might turn out to be a golden goose. Or it might turn out to be a big orange pig in a poke.
P.S. That artist rendering suggest the City plans to chop down that giant pecan tree between the fountain and Arapaho Rd., perhaps to open the sight line to the new north-south oriented plaza. Say it ain't so, Richardson.
How odd that no one has made any comments on this... Did you find out what makes up the difference? From what we see on the city's page in the itemized repair cost, the actual difference is closer to $16M... but still a big difference.
Ginny, thanks for the feedback. What difference do you mean? I found all the totals accounted for.
I see now… “ but presented at the January 23 City Council meeting, the City presented three unfunded proposals for additional renovations, over and above what was funded in the 2021 bond, with estimated cost of $16M. With expected inflation, that probably gets us up to the $21.1M that's unaccounted for in the $60M figure for repair and renovation of the existing building instead of building a new one.” Got it.
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