After years of searching for possible locations for a new City Hall, the City Council has decided to stay where it is.
By a 3-0 vote, the council Tuesday approved spending $4.05 million to purchase the two-story building it rents at 33282 Street of the Golden Lantern from Moba Development and Management Inc. The building has been appraised at nearly $3 million, according to Councilman Harold R. Kaufman.
"I am absolutely confident that if [residents] had access to all of the numbers . . . they would arrive at the same conclusion: that this is a good thing," said Mayor Karen Lloreda.
Not everybody agrees.
"I think we're overpaying for the building," said Councilman Bill Ossenmacher, who voted against the purchase in closed session two weeks ago, but was home sick and didn't vote Tuesday. "I think the council didn't consider other options so didn't have a strong negotiation position with the property owner. But I still think it's preferable to the kind of rent we pay there."
For six years, the city has leased the building, most recently for $32,000 a month, prompting the council to look for alternatives to renting. The lease was due to expire Dec. 31, 1996, with the city facing a rent increase of about 20%, Kaufman said.
"We've looked at almost every vacant piece of property and every vacant building in town and nothing really worked for us," said Kaufman.
Besides the 32,632-square-foot building that sits on a 1.5-acre lot, the purchase includes a 158-car parking lot. City offices now occupy about 13,500 square feet in the second story. The rest of the building would continue to be leased to other tenants, city officials said.
Kaufman said he based his decision on the belief that moving to another building would cost more than the city is now spending.
"What I took into consideration was the cost of buying another building, the cost of moving, plus having to relocate tenants and refurbishing the building. That would have been well in excess of what we're spending," Kaufman said.
Since the city was incorporated in 1989, the city has saved more than $3 million for the purchase of a new city hall. The rest of the money will come from general fund reserves.
The city is expected to close escrow by May 31.