CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper City Council indicated Tuesday it is comfortable with a staff request to go ahead and purchase some HVAC components for a future project for upgrades at City Hall.
The city has set aside $2.6 million toward the eventual upgrades to City Hall and that money would be used to purchase the two air handlers needed, City Manager Carter Napier said. The city has been looking to make upgrades at City Hall, a facility built in 1978, for some time but the City Council decided this spring to hold off on the project after bids from five construction companies all came back at costs north of $6 million.
Higher costs for materials amid inflation “resulted in much higher bids than expected,” a memo from city staff said this spring. Such inflationary pressure along with delays in receiving the HVAC components are two of the reasons why Napier said during the Tuesday, June 14 work session staff was seeking the City Council’s approval to buy the air handlers.
The city would purchase the air handlers and store them until the decision is made to move forward with the overall City Hall project. The air handlers will cost roughly $150,000-$180,000 each with two needed if the purchase happens now, Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Zulima Lopez said.
Exactly how much the cost will rise if the city waits to purchase the air handlers is uncertain though Lopez indicated confidence the city will save some money by purchasing now due to what is happening with inflation. She added that some HVAC components are taking 30-50 weeks to ship so purchasing the air handlers now could ensure the overall project isn’t delayed when it happens.
The air handlers at City Hall do need attention as the one that services Council Chambers has recently experienced some leaking, Lopez said.
Councilmember Bruce Knell asked for assurances that approving those purchases now wouldn’t lead to the city buying air handlers that will be obsolete by the time the project actually happens. Air handlers are components that tend to last several decades and staff is confident what is purchased will be viable when the City Hall project happens, according to Lopez.
Councilmember Lisa Engebretsen asked if there are other components the city could purchase now to avoid higher costs in the future, noting that she brought up a similar question when the City Council discussed the project in the spring.
HVAC components are among the biggest drivers of material price increases the city is seeing with air handlers the single biggest components, according to Napier and Lopez.
Mayor Ray Pacheco suggested the City Council give staff the okay to move forward with the air handler purchases and research if there are other components that could be purchased early to avoid higher costs when the project happens. Councilmembers indicated agreement with this suggestion.
Details about the overall City Hall project are available in this article.