The money would tide the city over until a new facility can be built, city staff members said.
Palm Coast may spend up to $975,000 improving the Public Works facility on Hargrove Grade at U.S. 1, with plans to spend potentially $26.4 million in future years building a new facility there.
The City Council at a workshop April 30 considered whether the city should accelerate plans intended to make the facility safer and more efficient by renovating the current buildings and adding modular office space. That could require spending reserve money.
The city currently has about 19% fund balance reserve, and Mayor Millissa Holland asked city staff members if the city could use some of that money to speed the project.
Staff members said they would look into it, but that the city would need to maintain a reserve of about 17%.
“I am very much in favor of keeping a healthy reserve fund balance. ... It’s the responsible thing to do,” Holland said. But, she said, keeping employees in unsafe conditions is not responsible. “If there’s a way to take that (money), one-time, and add to a project that would help make it more safe ... I think that would be the responsible thing,” she said.
The Public Works facility has been a topic of City Council discussion for years. Current problems include water intrusion, structural problems, and a lack of parking and storage space, according to city staff.
Council members toured the facility in 2017, and, in 2018, discussed adding taxes or electric fees to pay for a new facility. That generated resident pushback.
The council told staff members to come up with funding ideas using revenue the city already has.
The new proposed temporary improvements, City Manager Matt Morton said at the April 30 workshop, are expected to have a life of about seven years.
They would include fixing water intrusion in one of the Public Works buildings, adding a converted fleet service area, adding restrooms and adding an indoor meeting and training area.
“This is primarily trying to deal with the immediate concerns of safety, health and efficiency,” Morton told City Council members.
The proposal to use modular buildings concerned City Councilman Jack Howell.
“Modular and hurricanes don’t mix,” Howell said. “Why don’t we start thinking about permanency, and putting in a brick and mortar facility?”
City Stormwater & Engineering Department Director Carl Cote replied that the proposed modular buildings would be designed to mitigate the current facility’s problems while the city builds a new facility on the property, which has been expanded through a land swap with an adjacent property owner.
A city presentation on the proposed improvements and new facility construction showed proposals for spending of $975,000 in 2019 for temporary improvements, then a total of $26.4 over the following seven years to design and construct a new facility. Those numbers are estimates, because the city does not have bids for the work at this point.
The current public works facility was turned over to the city by Flagler County in 1999, according to a city staff document.