Copperas Cove city council comes to consensus on senior center funding sources
By LYNETTE SOWELL
A new Copperas Cove Senior Center is a little closer to reality after Tuesday evening’s Copperas Cove city council workshop.
City Manager Ryan Haverlah outlined the current funding sources for the project as well as the shortfall.
“We have general fund dollars of just over $700,000 which was the net result of funds available from the property sale of the current senior center. The City Council has allocated $600,000 In ARPA funds towards this project and $540,000 in bond funds previously for this project, which gives us total funding sources of $1.8 million,” he said.
Haverlah added that the estimated for the property purchase and site work is around $550,000 with construction of just under $1.7 million, and equipment of $250,000. The equipment focuses on the installing of a commercial grade kitchen.
“(The kitchen) can fulfill the needs of the seniors eating at the facility, as well as Meals on Wheels to cook those fresh meals that city council has previously identified as a priority,” he said.
The project also contains a contingency of $363,000 since it is an existing building.
“When you start opening walls and you start removing flooring, the unknown is always electrical, plumbing, as well as HVAC, so that that gives us a little bit of cushion in the event that any of those things need to be addressed.”
Haverlah said they have identified some other funding options, to include technology projects which were to have been funded with ARPA funds. Since ARPA funds must be fully used by December 31, 2024, and based on some commercial activity that is occurring throughout the city as well as identified need, those technology projects are not going to be done or needed at this time, he said.
“Really, the elevated need is the Senior Center at this point. So that’s why we’re making that recommendation.”
Havelrah said using some of the city’s general fund balance is an available funding option for the remaining $558,000.
“The fund balance currently sits at a very healthy position,” he said, pointing to the annual audit results which were shared in the meeting that followed.
The third option for the funding shortfall was to increase the expected issuance for the city’s annual certificates of obligation by $550,000.
He recommended using funds from the general fund balance to make up the $550,000.
When Mayor Dan Yancey asked for the consensus, councilmember Fred Chavez spoke up.
“I’m more inclined to use fund balance, and we have a healthy fund balance, rather than pulling in more obligation and more debts,” Chavez said. “We took advantage of setting up so that we had some more debt down the road, but this is something that we can take care of now and take care of immediately, without incurring more debt.”
The rest of the council agreed with that direction.
One of the city’s current capital improvement projects is the construction of a new senior center, either a build from the ground up or renovating an existing property.
Back in December 2023, the city council directed the city administration to go forward with the 307 Constitution Dr. site as the new senior center. This existing building is the site of the former Golden Corral. This site won out over the former location of City Hall, an empty lot on the corner of South Main Street and Robertson Avenue.
The reasons were ample parking spaces at the Constitution Drive facility and the size of the building for future growth. Also, the area is convenient to bus stops.
The 307 Constitution Dr. location would accommodate as much as 8,000 square feet of room to include meeting space, kitchen, offices, storage, and more. This would also expand the Meals on Wheels area.