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City Council awards bid for Princess Theatre demolition

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
December 02, 2020
BERLIN — On Nov. 23, the Berlin City Council met for a work session where Tara McKillop from AV Home Care gave a presentation. Each year the agency reports to the Council during the month of November, conveniently dubbed as 'Home Care' month.

McKillop stated that keeping staff has been difficult given the pandemic, however employees are still going into client's homes and helping with whatever is needed. AV Home Care serves 224 people in Berlin. Out of the 48 employees at AV Home Care, 24 live in Berlin.

She reports that fundraising has been a struggle this year. The company has asked for level funding of $8,774 for the past several years. Currently there are residents who have not been able to pay for services. Typically, fundraisers such as Dorothy's Gift can help alleviate those costs, however this year the fundraiser only raised $400. The lack in fundraising will leave a gap of $3,000.

City Manager James Wheeler introduced the City's new Finance Director, Holly Larsen. Wheeler said that Berlin has submitted all documents to obtain the tax rate to the DRA's Web portal. The portal permits the City to enter the amount of UFB they want to apply to reduce the tax rate. He said, that the minimum UFB remaining in the budget, that the DRA will approve, is 5 percent. Using $400,000 of UFB, the City's tax rate would be $35.93 which is a reduction of $4 from last year. Councilor Mike Eastman relayed that this will stimulate the economy. Mayor Paul Grenier stated that Berlin gained $78 million of value in the revaluation. Councilor Peter Higbee moved with a second from Councilor Eastman to authorize the City Manager and Comptroller to lock in the tax rate at $35.93, as presented. Councilor Higbee relayed that he is happy to see the UFB with more than a 5 percent cushion. All voted in favor.

The next discussion was in regards to a request to fill laborer and equipment operator positions. Wheeler relayed that there is an additional position available due to retirement. Wheeler says he will advertise the position in the near future.

Wheeler then proceeded to give a PWD equipment update. Last week, an independent inspector reviewed the PWD loaders, looking to see if they would pass RODES certification. While there, a certified welder from Alpine Machine was present who certified two out of four loaders. The other two are apparently beyond recertification. The cost was $7,500 per machine and half a day of a welder's time.

Wheeler said, "We now have eight pieces of equipment ready for snow."

Bids came in for the demolition of the Princess Theater, and for the building adjacent next to the firehouse. Wheeler stated that the low bid for both projects was from Cross and added that the City has had good experiences with them. The bid for the Princess was $110,000 which does not include the landfill costs. An amount of $200,000 was budgeted and will likely be reallocated to some funding to the demolition of a Second Avenue property. Wheeler stated that the demolition will begin a few weeks after the award is announced. The FD Adjacent Building had a low bid of $58,175. Councilor Higbee moved to authorize Wheeler to execute the document to award the demolition bids to Cross for $110,000 for the Princess and $58,175 for the FD Adjacent Building; Councilor Morgan seconded and the motion carried unanimously by roll call.

A feasibility study on whether a hotel would be successful in Berlin is slated to take place. If the results come back negative for a potential hotel, a feasibility study will take place to consider what is needed to make one viable. The proposal for the study is $15,000, to be paid for from the BIDPA enterprise fund. Councilor Higbee moved to hire Pinnacle Advisory Group for the Hotel/Lodging Feasibility Study.

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