Union City Hall

Things may soon be heating up at Union City Hall.

The personnel, finance and public works committee Monday is recommending the approval of an approximate $400,000 bid for a new heating and air-conditioning system to replace the current boiler system.

Lakebrink Heating and Air Conditioning submitted the only bid to be the general contractor for the new variable refrigerant flow system.

City Administrator Russel Rost said the new system would replace an antiquated HVAC system installed “piecemeal” over several years.

“It would eliminate a hodgepodge of systems used over the years,” he said.

The new system would provide heat in areas that are not temperature controlled now, including the auditorium and the city clerk’s office.

“One of the reasons we selected this system is because it is energy efficient,” said Rost. “Even with cooling the auditorium, we don’t expect to increase our energy costs — the energy cost will be a wash even with the addition of the huge amount of volume.”

He added that the city clerk’s office is heated with space heaters.

The variable refrigerant flow system would eliminate the need for natural gas at city hall, Rost said.

Alderman Dustin Bailey questioned if the new system would allow for expansion of city hall.

“Is the system flexible enough that we wouldn’t have to replace it?” he asked. “We should make sure it is not piecemeal, and then regret it.”

According to Rost, any future expansion of city hall would be to the east. The mechanical components of the HVAC system would be installed on the west side of the building.

“This system is expandable, so we could easily expand to take on new areas,” he said.

Allen Eaker, co-owner of Lakebrink Heating and Air Conditioning estimated that it would require about one month to install the system. Work would begin after the full board of aldermen approve the contract, and a budget amendment to free up the funds.

Cash Reserves

According to Rost, the heating and cooling system would be funded from the city’s cash reserves.

Each year the city sets aside 25 percent of its operating budget for emergencies. Rost said the new system is not an emergency, but the cash reserves can be utilized for major projects.

The procedure of setting aside funds is a recommendation from budget analysis schools to municipal financial officers.

“These are reserves in the event of a catastrophic loss — like flooding of a sewer plant, tornadoes or a fire — so we are able to survive those losses,” he said. “We do have insurance, but this could cover the deductible or if things get excluded.”

Bid Process

According to Rost, bids were sought in December, and there were five general contractors who attended a pre-bid meeting Jan. 8 to look at the current system and take measurements of city hall.

Lakebrink was the only company to submit a bid by the Jan. 29 deadline to submit a proposal.

“We had a lot of calls from different companies and we only had one with a proposal submitted,” said Rost.

Over a year ago the system was estimated to cost $426,000.

“The bid actually came under the original estimate but that was conservative,” Rost said.