After discussing options and costs for several minutes, the board of aldermen opted to fix a broken air-conditioning unit at the St. Clair Senior Center instead of replace it.
The decision was made during the board’s first August meeting.
“We received a letter from Mary Baldwin saying one of the air-conditioning units at the senior center was out,” City Administrator Rick Childers said.
Baldwin is the administrator of the center, which serves St. Clair and surrounding area senior citizens. The center also is a Red Cross cooling center “for anyone in the Franklin County area needing a cool place during the hot summer days,” she said in a letter to the city.
The center has three air-conditioning units, and included in Baldwin’s letter was one bid to replace each one separately. The bids were $8,500, $7,870 and $8,150, respectively for the three units. Childers said he believed it was the second unit that was not working properly.
The bids were provided by Home Systems Inc. of St. Clair.
Baldwin was not at the meeting, but senior center volunteer and regular board meeting attendee Vera Buschler said, “All I know is that it’s warm in there.”
During the discussion, Childers estimated it would cost $2,000 to $3,000 to repair the broken unit, but he emphasized he was only guessing.
The city administrator also said that money was placed in the city’s 2012 budget to address the air-conditioning situation at the center, but the money was spent on electrical upgrades needed at the time.
“None of the three units are in particularly good shape,” Childers said. “We can repair the one that’s broken or we can replace it. I’m looking for direction from the board.”
Buschler said the current units have been in place since at least 1991. The center opened in 1983, and Baldwin said she believes the units are the original ones installed when the center was built.
There was no money budgeted for air-conditioning repair or replacement at the center this year, Childers said.
“It would be an unbudgeted expense,” he said.
Baldwin stated that the center provides daily activities for area senior citizens and also is the home base for a meals on wheels program that delivers 150 hot meals a day.
Ward 1 Alderman Nathan Tate was the first to suggest repairing the unit.
“Wouldn’t it be better to repair it and then try to budget for it (replacement) next year?” he said.
“Personally, I would like to see us repair it and look to budget for it (replacement) next year,” Mayor Ron Blum said in agreement.
Blum added that the city’s usual bidding process calls for receiving at least three bids and the city accepting the lowest and best one.
Board members and Blum also stated that since it is August and since July was cooler than normal, maybe the worst of the summer heat is over.
The board then made the decision to repair the unit instead of replace it. Childers said late last week that repair work has not yet started, but negotiations with a company to fix the unit are taking place.