Remodeling costs higher than expected
By Bob Okon Bokon@stmedianetwork.com August 14, 2012 4:50PM
Ben Benson, Assistant City Manager, looks over the Joliet City Council chambers, which are under demolition, in Joliet, IL on Wednesday August 15, 2012. The chambers are being remodeled for the first time in more than 40 years. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Joliet City Council meetings will be relocated starting Monday while the council chambers are renovated.
The council schedule until it returns to the remodeled chambers in November is as follows:
Monday: 3:30 p.m. pre-council meeting in the planning conference room at city hall;
Tuesday: 6:30 p.m. regular meeting in the Joliet Area Historical Museum, 204 N. Ottawa St.
Sept. 4: 6:30 p.m. regular meeting in the Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center auditorium, 333 N. Madison St.;
Sept. 17: 3:30 p.m. pre-council meeting in the planning conference room at city hall;
Sept. 18: 6:30 p.m. regular meeting in the Joliet Central High School Little Theater, 201 E. Jefferson St.;
Oct. 1: 3:30 p.m. pre-council meeting in the planning conference room at city hall;
Oct. 2: 6:30 p.m. regular meeting in the Joliet Junior College Board Room in New Campus Center, Building A at 1215 Houbolt Road;
Oct. 15: 3:30 p.m. pre-council meeting in the planning conference room at city hall;
Oct. 16: 6:30 p.m. regular meeting at the Joliet Area Historical Museum, 204 N. Ottawa St.;
Oct. 29: 4 p.m. special budget meeting in the planning conference room at city hall;
Nov. 5: 3:30 p.m. pre-council meeting in the Joliet Township High School District Board Room at 300 Caterpillar Drive.
Updated: September 18, 2012 6:09AM
JOLIET — The $878,000 remodeling of the council chambers is costing about twice what the city originally estimated for the job.
Tax dollars are not being used for the project, although the city has initiated a monthly 35-cent fee on Comcast customers that helps pay for the job. Comcast customers will pay a total of about $5 more than what was expected when the project was priced at $433,000 in May.
Assistant City Manager Ben Benson said he underestimated the cost of the project when the estimated price tag was presented to the city council in May.
“I have to take responsibility for that first number,” Benson said. “It’s a quick lesson in humility and what things actually cost.”
Benson said he based his original estimate on council chamber overhauls done in Morris and Burr Ridge. Once the city pursued bids on the project, he said, he found it was more expensive. Added costs in Joliet, he said, are tied to technological improvements and the conversion of the chambers into a multi-purpose room that also will accommodate a federal bankruptcy court.
The federal government is contributing about $300,000 to the project, including a $114,000 capital contribution and $180,000 in rent over 10 years.
The remainder of the costs are covered by the Comcast fee and a 1 percent fee paid by AT&T television customers. The 1 percent AT&T fee already was in place and has been used to fund Joliet Community TV.
Benson said the additional costs will be covered by extending the use of AT&T and Comcast fees for the project. The Comcast fee, however, will be eliminated in a little more than four years after it has generated the money needed for the project. The initial plan was to use the Comcast fee for three years.
The Comcast fee was first charged to customers in June.
The project actually includes an overhaul of the entire second floor where the council chambers are located, creating office space that will be used by bankruptcy judges and lawyers.