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Appraisal of condemned City Hall recommended

SUN-GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

With repair needs estimated as high as $6.1 million for Williamsport City Hall to be functional again, City Council’s finance committee recommended passage of a resolution assigning appraisal services for the condemned building.

The firm recommended is Nestarick Appraisal & Consulting, a company used by Roan Real Estate LLC.

The estimated cost of the appraisal is $4,500, and it would take about seven weeks to complete should council approve it on Thursday, said Jon Sander, city engineer.

Sander said this would be an opportunity to get an appraisal for the City Hall, which remains condemned since September due to heavy water damage and health and safety concerns.

Councilwoman Liz Miele, committee chair, said this is very much in question whether to move out of City Hall and asked the administration to keep her informed.

“We are leaning toward a public auction,” Sander said.

This was reviewed by two solicitors, Austin White and Jill Nagy.

An auction was suggested because it would be fair and transparent.

Roan Auctioneer would promote and advertise it, Sander said.

Mayor Derek Slaughter noted how the administration has “definitely not made a determination” if the building will be for sale and that the solicitors recommended getting an appraisal done as part of a baseline figure to provide council later with a comprehensive package.

Any relationship with Roan Auctioneers also would need to come to council first.

Miele asked the timeline for the appraisal, which was given as seven weeks.

“I was under the impression an auction was the only way we could unload city real estate,” Miele said.

Slaughter said that was not the case and that six or seven options were available, with some more paperwork intensive.

Again, the administration was not fully committed to any one way but did believe the appraisal process was the best course forward.

Miele tried to further pin down the mayor and Sander about the possibility of sale.

“So the administration has decided that we are selling City Hall?” she asked.

“Not 100% yet, but we are leaning toward that route and want to present that comprehensively once we make that determination,” Slaughter said.

An appraisal is one of several steps; whether the city wants to move in the sale route, an appraisal would be needed as part of an overall comprehensive package in what to do, he said.

Solicitors believed it is in the best interest of the city to get the appraisal but that in no way binds the city to a particular sale price.

The appraisal would establish a baseline of fair market value as per city code, Slaughter said.

Councilman Eric Beiter asked about the City Hall project as a whole.

“Is there work done on a presentation for council on what work has to be done?” he said of the needed repairs inside the building.

Sander, for example, has tabulated $6.1 million based on today’s need, square footage and accessibility for the building in its totality.

Whatever direction the administration decided to take, it would like to present the appraisal, the figures for repair by Sander and by Joseph Gerardi, city codes administration, and what costs would be related to staying in Trade and Transit I and II buildings.

“We would like to present the full package and give paperwork and do all of that at the same time instead of piecemeal,” Slaughter said.

Beiter asked how the appraiser will be paid.

The City Hall operation budget has several applicable line items, Sander said, who added that could be a future issue for the committee to review.

The committee also gave positive recommendation for a resolution appointing Kris Black, Director of Information Technology. Black’s salary at River Valley Transit is $61,807. River Valley Transit formally becomes an authority on July 1, the starting date of transit’s fiscal year. Black is expected to receive $70,000 on Sept. 20 and work as a city employee.

The committee gave a positive recommendation of an ordinance of American Rescue Plan Act transfer on first reading, as presented by Joseph Pawlak, interim city finance director.

The city is proposing to move $19,000 from public service contingency into a new line of public safety for paying for a safety trailer, cones and barricades for the public works department for special events and emergency situations as required by the state Department of Transportation.

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