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Plans for new Xenia city building move forward

Xenia is moving forward with plans for a new administration building following a recent council vote that approved spending $559,000 on the new facility’s design.

The proposed building would be located downtown near East Main and Whiteman streets and the move will allow for more space in the current administration building, on North Detroit Street, creating a “justice center” for court, police, probation and law departments, said city officials.

Construction on the new building could start as early as fall this year and be completed in 2015, said Mark Bazelak, the Xenia finance director. Modifications to the existing city hall could start as early as 2016.

“The staff recommendation was to explore this option because it was the best of the options,” said Jim Percival, the Xenia city manager. “The issue is we need more space, so we’ve got to do something.”

Preliminary construction estimates for the new building are about $4 million and $2 million for city hall renovations, Bazelak said.

“The driving factor behind moving into or finding a new space for a city hall building is that our current city hall building contains city offices, our law department (in the upper part of the building) and our police department shoehorned into the basement,” said Xenia City Council President Michael Engle. “When it was built, back a number of years ago, it was undersized and we are just now realizing that we must do something to create more space for it.”

Xenia City Councilman Dale Louderback was the sole dissenter in a 6-to-1 vote for additional funding for the new building design.

“I’m not a tax spender,” Louderback said. “… I don’t want to spend the taxpayers’ money on that … I don’t think the time is right. I’ve been trying to reduce taxes. We have one of the highest city income taxes in the state of Ohio.”

The city income tax rate is 2.25 percent.

Lauderback acknowledged the police department is getting crowded, but said he didn’t see a need to spend taxpayer money on a new building.

“I would rather see our taxpayers get a (tax) reduction instead of spending of spending their money, in my opinion, unnecessarily,” he said.

After reviewing options, the council determined the best way to “finance the arrangement” was to move the city offices to the new locations and allow the police department to move from the basement to the first floor doubling the amount of space it has available, Engle said. This option also includes increasing space for the law department and courts.

“The important thing that some have expressed great concern about is that like every city we’re not rolling in cash, but what we’ve done is we’ve looked very carefully across all our budget lines and our projected incomes and we have distributed the amount of monies we will have to take from individual accounts and finance to make it affordable within a five to seven year projection for the city moving forward,” Engle said.

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