Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Barnum rejects all bids


October 3, 2019

The Barnum City Council rejected the current bids for the new liquor store, community center and city hall complex at a special meeting on Monday, Sept. 23.

Tim Meyer of the Meyer Group, the principal architect for the project, attended the meeting and said that he had developed a plan for the new complex that would consist of 11,000 square feet when he first met with the council back in February this year.

“The project was reduced to 6 or 7,000 square feet in the planning meetings and then increased back to 9,500 square feet, where it is today,” said Meyer. “Recent wood frame construction projects have run $250 a square foot and higher. This project is estimated at $2.3 to $2.4 million.”

The planning committee had listed the bar, liquor store and community center as the primary portions of the project. The original capacity of the community center was 300 people but it was reduced to 250 people, Meyer said. The project was to be bid in phases.

“We are planning a fall start to the project and complete it in the spring,” he added.

Meyer reviewed the bids and deducted items, such as demolition, which the city would do. That would save $49,692.

He said that the contractors could also furnish the city with alternate deductions to reduce the cost. Some of the work could be deferred to future phases of the project, he added.

Bids for food service equipment came to over $200,000, he said.

Mayor Jason Goodwin pointed out that the municipal liquor store would have to pay for itself but the city could not project a 10 percent increase in sales.

“I always figured that the liquor store would be $1 million with $200,000 for food service equipment,” he said.

Meyer explained that construction costs have gone up quite a bit. There had been an 8 percent increase this year from last year, and the costs will go even higher next year because of tariffs.

“We’ve got to sharpen the pencil and go back for a spring start,” said Goodwin. “I know that we can’t afford what I see on the plans. We have got to be self-sufficient. We can’t put that much of a tax burden on the residents.”

Goodwin explained that he had just gotten the plans before the meeting and didn’t have time to study them. He said that he didn’t understand the alternatives that would reduce the cost.

“Maybe a small town can’t support a $1.5 million liquor store,” he said. “We need to see if there is grant money to demolish the liquor store. I haven’t even looked at the community center and the office part of the data.”

When Meyer strongly suggested a construction start in October, the councilors spoke about the need to continue to work on the project to reduce costs.

“We’ve waited for 20 years, we can wait longer,” said Councilor Dale Riihiluoma.

“It’s got to be right,” added Goodwin. “We’ve got to be able to pay for it.”

The council also considered the preliminary levy and approved it at an increase of 12 percent to raise enough money for the project complex.

Clerk Bernadine Reed explained to the councilors that the final levy cannot be higher than the preliminary levy but it can be set lower. The final levy will be decided in December.

The monthly meeting of the Barnum City Council will be on Monday, Oct. 7, at 6 p.m. in the city hall.


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