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Greenwood will borrow for new squad vehicle, library repairs

The city of Greenwood will borrow $70,000 to purchase a new police squad vehicle and make repairs to its 86-yearold public library building to get by until it decides if it will stay in that building or build a new facility.

The City Council voted 3-1 on Nov. 18 to take out the loan, with Travis Petke voting no. The majority of the money will be used to replace one of two used police squads the city now owns and to equip the new vehicle with necessary gear. Voting in favor of the loan were Tracy Nelson, Ryan Ashbeck and Doug Schlough.

Unable to squeeze the expenses into its 2021 budget plan without exceeding the state imposed tax rate freeze, the Council opted for the borrowing so it can upgrade the squad vehicle in 2021 and also get the library through in the short-term. The Council is looking into possible costs and options for building a new library, but that decision will take time. In the interim, the current library building — which also housed the city clerk’s office until early this year — is in dire need of basic maintenance such as painting and window and masonry repair.

Police chief Bernie Bock said he expects a new squad vehicle will cost between $50,000-$55,000 once it is equipped with a cage, dash camera, etc. The city will trade or sell the 2013 vehicle it now uses as a backup, and keep the current main squad, a 2017 model with about 72,000 miles. Bock said body styles have changed since the city last bought a new vehicle, so the equipment from the current one won’t fit and will have to be purchased new.

Depending on what the city can get for the 2013 vehicle, there may be from $25,000-$30,000 left of the $70,000 loan to spend on the old library building upgrades. The Library Board recently submitted a list of needed upgrades to the Council, which prompted a discussion of possibly building a new structure instead of investing money into the 1934 stone building on Main Street. One possible location under consideration is an open lot adjacent to the Branstiter Old Streets of Greenwood museum. For now, the city will spend what’s necessary to carry the library through at least the next few years. Some of the money will be used to convert the former city clerk’s space into useable library space, and more will go toward such items as window painting, eve troughs, door swings, masonry repairs, etc.

City Clerk Kayla Schar said she will ask the bank if the city can get the loan on an as-needed basis, in case the library repairs can be covered for less.

“We certainly don’t want to borrow more than we need,” she said. “If we’re going to get a new building, we don’t want to put thousands of dollars into a building that may not be there in three to five years.”

Mayor Jim Schecklman said the city will make only necessary repairs for now.

“We were talking about just doing the important ones right now because we don’t know what we’re going to do with that building,” he said.

The city borrowed $450,000 late in 2018, with the Council intending to use some of that money for library building upgrades. The city bought the former Memorial Medical Center clinic building for $135,000, then spent $145,000 more to remodel it for city hall use. It also used $104,000 to upgrade the Old Streets of Greenwood museum building with a new roof, exterior walls and windows, etc. With related engineering fees for those projects, the $450,000 was used up before any could be delegated to library building needs.

In other library-related business at the Council’s Nov. 18 meeting, it approved a 2021 contribution of $64,500 for library operation. It had provided $64,000 for 2020, and the library’s proposed budget for 2021 called for $65,808 from the city.

The Council also approved a switch of insurance carriers for city employees. It had Security Health Plan as its provider, but Schar said proposed rates for 2021 were to rise more than 24 percent. The city then sought price quotes from two other carriers.

The Council approved a switch to Spectrum, which will save the city more than $43,000 in 2021. Deductibles for employees will go up by $1,000 for family plans and $500 for singles, but individual premium contributions will go down for some.