How Liberty Twp. is saving $400K on its new government building project

A $3.8 million contract for the new Liberty Twp. administration building and sheriff’s outpost has been awarded, and the township could save about $400,000, officials said.

The project’s cost including land purchase is about $4.8 million, below the estimate of $5.2 million. The township paid $954,000 for the land in an office park on Ohio 747 between Princeton and Millikin roads for the 15,000-square-foot building last year. Taxpayer-backed bonds are funding the building.

Trustee President Steve Schramm said the township received 14 bids and almost all were close to the estimate.

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Trustees considered purchasing the building where they reside now on Liberty Centre Drive. They thought they could put the monthly $8,035 lease payments toward an outright purchase when the five-year lease was up, but that deal didn’t materialize.

“It’s going to be a beautiful facility but not an exorbitant facility. I think we are maximizing our dollars on a very effective and efficient facility without getting too extravagant, making us look like we’re rich, which we’re not,” Schramm said. “I believe it’s a great use of dollars.”

Schramm said officials are spending more than they were before housing township offices, but when the bonds are paid off in 20 years, they will have 30-plus years without rent or mortgage payments.

“So when the note is paid off, now it’s free,” he said. “I think it’s a very smart decision long-term.”

In the township where the population has quadrupled over the past two decades to around 40,000, and with future growth expected, trustees embarked on a facilities plan in 2016.

The path of the $13 million facilities plan has taken a few unexpected turns. Officials considered using property the township already owns and at which it holds its meetings on Princeton Road for the new administration building, but clearing site would have cost an estimated $1.8 million. Plans for the old meeting center are still being determined.

The trustees had also purchased a $384,000 parcel on Cincinnati Dayton Road north of Millikin Road for a new fire station. A better, more centrally located piece of real estate came on the market last year, and the trustees paid $550,000 for the land on Princeton Road, which will eliminate the need for two new stations. The fire station savings could reach $3 million, according to officials.

The township sold a $4.2 million, one-year note for construction and ancillary items, like signage, audio and visual equipment, security and some new furniture. Schramm said it will continue to use as much of the existing furnishings as they can.

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Finance Director Michelle Greis said the loan has a 3 percent interest rate, and a year from now, the township will issue new bonds to include the new fire station. She is hoping the life of the loan will only be 20 years.

Trustee Tom Farrell said “it feels like the weight of the world is off our shoulders” now that the township can start building the new administration center.

“The facilities plan was a lot longer than I would have liked, but the bottom line is good things take time,” Farrell said. “The savings in tax dollars, the longevity of the buildings that will end up there, will save money for generations not just now. I’m very happy with the results.”

Farrell said the trustees and staff recently toured seven fire stations in neighboring jurisdictions to get an idea of what others are doing. The township will likely pick a hybrid structure of prefab and custom construction, according to Farrell. The price range is $5 million to $8 million.

Trustee Christine Matacic said that these plans are providing residents, businesses and visitors with centrally located buildings and cost savings.

“Overall I think we will be able to service everyone’s needs much better,” she said.

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