Costs incurred by the Village of Walbridge for renovating a building and property along Drouillard Road have a member of council questioning the village’s procedures for such transactions.
Ed Kolanko, a member of council’s finance committee, last week said he became frustrated when bills for the renovation costs came streaming in and soon easily exceeded the administration’s initial estimates.
In March, the village purchased the building and property at 30801 Drouillard Road for $70,000.
The ordinance by council approving the purchase was quickly followed by a motion to approve a lease for the property with Professional Transportation, Inc., which had been located on Main Street but was looking for another site.
As the village began renovating the building, Kolanko said the village administration projected costs would be about $10,000.
Mayor Dan Wilczynski last week, however, said the total costs for material and labor are approximately $45,000.
“We spent more than we were verbally told,” Kolanko said. “We didn’t just spend a little more, we spent a lot more. That’s where my frustration is. During this process a lot of this information could have been shared with council and it wasn’t. I guess it’s my own fault too for not asking more questions sooner but there were meetings this information could have been shared with us.”
According to the minutes of council’s Sept. 2 meeting, Kolanko requested his peers postpone paying one of the bills for renovating the property until council had time to examine the costs in more detail. Only two other councilmembers, Maureen Jacobsen and Kathy Heldt, supported his motion to delay payment and it failed due to a lack of a majority.
Mayor Wilczynski said the renovation began with village personnel doing most of the work but a private contractor, Granata & Haack Construction Co., was retained when it became apparent the village couldn’t complete the work alone by the time PTI needed to move in.
“Nothing was hidden. Our village administrator called me and asked if I had any problem with using Pete (Granata),” the mayor said, adding council was kept apprised of the decision to hire an outside contractor.
He estimates the PTI payroll is sufficient to pay about $20,000 in annual income taxes to the village, which has a 1.5 percent income tax rate.
PTI’s lease payments to the village will cover the costs of the loan and taxes the village incurred for the purchase of the property, he said.
“The village has another asset,” the mayor said of the renovated building and property.
Kolanko doesn’t question the need for economic development in the village but the process – including the absence of any competitive bidding for the construction work – has left him dismayed.
“I think it’s important to retain business in the village but we should be very cognizant of what we’re spending,” he said.