Jessica Mathews /

The next phase of renovations to Howell City Hall is moving forward.

City Council met Monday night and approved a motion to authorize the issuance of capital improvement bonds for the project. Bond counsel was present during the meeting and gave a brief overview of the timeline.

The first phase of the project was completed this summer and involved moving various offices from the 3rd floor to the first floor. Staff from the 2nd and 3rd floors have now moved down to the new 1st floor offices, which is where a bank used to be located. The 1st floor now houses the city manager, clerk, treasurer, finance, utility billing, community development, human resources, and IT.

The next phase involves relocating the Police Department from the first floor to the second floor, and then moving Council Chambers up from the basement to the first floor. The project also includes some exterior improvements and a new facility generator. With the generator incorporated, City Hall could also be used as a heating and cooling center if needed.

City Manager Erv Suida told WHMI when Council was put in the basement, roughly four decades ago, it was supposed to be a temporary measure - with the intention of eventually moving upstairs. He said they are now to that point as the basement really doesn’t work, there’s not enough space, and it’s prone to wetness. Suida said this phase will get the Police Department updated and bring Council chambers up to the first floor – which will also act as a voting precinct instead of it being on the second floor. He noted that probably won’t happen until the 2024 election but they’re looking forward to having the precinct be more accessible to voters.

The preliminary estimated cost for the next phase of improvements is around $3 (m) million.

As for the bonds, Suida says they’ll issue the bonds and are looking to sell them in October with receipt expected the first week of November. However, he noted they’re looking at starting construction prior to that as the work is not fully funded by bonds and some general fund dollars are being used to pay for the project.

The City is said to be holding off on some of the improvements for the basement and outside covered parking pending more strategic discussions about site improvements.