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Future of Eagle city hall uncertain

In Eagle, the future of City Hall remains in question, specifically because of its high operating costs. Now a task force is proposing four options that could save thousands of dollars annually.

In 2009, Eagle was forced to slash its workforce by 40 percent, and reduce services for everything from park maintenance to its contract with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.

During the fiscal year 2010 budget process, city officials began renegotiating its lease rate for City Hall with the rental offices of Hawkins-Smith, and decided to create a task force to look at other feasible money-saving options.

“It was a combination of the council and mayor who realized that there had to be some sort of cost savings, whether it be through a better lease, buying the building, etc.,” acting Mayor Michael Huffaker said.

The task force, organized in June, had to take into account how much money the city was spending on the 13,000-square-foot building which houses conference rooms, offices, and council chambers. The city occupies the building on a year-to-year triple-net lease, which means they pay all taxes, maintenance, insurance and utilities costs in addition to the lease which alone totals around $240,000 a year. Add up those extras, and every year, it runs about $300,000 to operate in its current location on Civic Lane.

“I wanted to help identify and evaluate City Hall services,” said Jeff Kunz, co-chaired the task force. “I am keenly interested in ensuring that city government executes as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

Four proposed options from the task force include:
• continue leasing the current building from Hawkins-Smith,
• lease office space in another location,
• purchase the building through a bond election approval process;
• purchase an alternate space through a bond election, or investigate other viable options.

The city has already asked for potential bids from the public, and is scheduled to begin reviewing them during the July 13 council meeting.

“If there are no prospects at all, one option might be to go back to the landlord and negotiate better lease terms. We are waiting to get the bids in, confidentially look at them, and try to pick the best option and eventually enter into negotiations,” Huffaker said.

Gale Pooley, a Star resident who owns property in Eagle, and whose son Tyler was also a task force member, has a clear opinion on what should be done.

“I think the building they have is oversized, and the lease that is associated with it is expensive,” she said. “Clearly in today’s economic times, it’s time to reduce some of its costs.”

About Jennifer Gonzalez

Jennifer Gonzalez covers construction, real estate and development news. Contact her at jennifer.gonzalez@idahobusinessreview.com or 208.639.3515.