Tariffs could impact fire station project

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


Steel tariffs were on the mind of Washington City Council members Tuesday night as they added an additional $50,000 to the new fire station?s budget, as city officials are unsure the impact the tariffs would have on the building project.

Project architect Kristofer Orth, of Design Alliance, said the steel tariffs are still an unknown, but the Design Alliance cost estimating team believe the impact will be between $25,000 and $50,000. ?I included a $50,000 potential impact in the budget,? Orth said.

President Donald Trump is imposing steep tariffs on steel and aluminum from three of America?s biggest trading partners ? Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Penalties are 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum.

During the regular meeting Tuesday architect Orth said the documents to solicit bids for the fire station building project are close to being completed. The council viewed last minute changes before the bid packets are distributed. Orth said there are a few places he needed to make some final edits before the packets were to go out. He expect the packets to go out Monday, July 9, and a contractor to be hired August 21. A public hearing on the final plans is scheduled for July 24. Construction would start Sept. 10, with 10 months of construction scheduled.

?The bid environment is to our advantage,? Mayor Jaron Rosien commented. Orth said the University of Iowa recently put a moratorium on construction, so contractors in Iowa City are eager for work. He said 15 contractors are scheduled to receive bid packages.

He also said there is a change order allowance included. Possible changes if enough money is left in the budget include the addition of a flagpole and bell tower.

The total estimated cost of the project is $2.9 million and is about $11,000 under budget. Orth said that the budget so far is just an estimate but the bidding environment will tell the actual cost of the project.

A spatial needs survey done in 2014 showed the city offices need about 25,000 square feet, and are currently housed in a 9,400 square foot building. In addition to the construction of the new fire station, the city estimates a $1.2 million project for the renovation of the municipal building. The project is being done with existing money so no tax increase is required, nor is a bond referendum.

The council agreed to the plan after a proposal to use the former library building as city hall was rejected. The new plan calls for the construction of a new fire station and will house the police department and city hall in the current municipal building.