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Cottage Grove council set to award city hall bid

Cottage Grove City Council members on Wednesday are expected to sign off on a $15.7 million bid to construct a planned municipal complex, setting the stage for construction crews to break ground on the hotly-debated -- but, city officials say, badly needed -- project next week.

The council will vote on a resolution to award the city hall/public safety building bid to Graham Construction Services at its regular meeting Wednesday night. Graham, a Canadian-based contractor with offices in the Twin Cities, was identified by a panel of city officials as the preferred bidder through a selection process called Best Value Contracting that evaluated bidders on items such as project plan and schedule and experience with similar projects.

Graham also submitted the lowest bid - just over $13 million -- among three finalists, according to the city.

On top of Graham's $13 million bid, the project cost also includes more than $800,000 for furniture, fixtures and equipment, and a $625,000 contingency fund, bringing the project's total cost to roughly $15.7 million.

City council members last year set a project budget of $17 million, and recent estimates placed construction of the complex at around $16.2 million.

The project will construct a new public safety facility that city and public safety officials have said is badly needed to replace the police department's current basement headquarters, as well as new city offices and city council chambers.

The building will be financed using existing city funds and roughly $11 million in private loans to the city, with officials asserting it will have no impact on city taxes after millions in existing debt was paid off earlier this year.

A group opposed the project attempted to force bonding for the project onto a citywide referendum; officials avoided that scenario by changing course on financing and obtaining financing through a private institution in lieu of selling city bonds.

Construction of the 67,000-square-foot building is scheduled to begin with a groundbreaking ceremony on Sept. 29 near Ravine Parkway and Highway 19.

The Cottage Grove City Council meets at Cottage Grove City Hall, 7516 80th Street, beginning with an open forum at 7:15 p.m.