Marietta City Hall overhaul to begin in December

MARIETTA – The interior renovation of Marietta’s City Hall at 301 Putnam St. is expected to begin in December, according to a presentation during a combined meeting of city council’s lands, buildings and parks and finance committees Thursday.

Traci Stotts, architect and vice president of marketing and development for Pickering Associates, presented final drawings of the project to the committee members and announced the city-appointed historic review board had approved the plans.

City engineer Joe Tucker said the project is ready for construction bids.

“We’re asking for legislation to go out for bids, and will come back to council with our recommendations after the bids are submitted,” he said. “We’re also giving local contractors preference on this project by weighting the bids. If a local contractor’s bid is slightly below that of a contractor from outside the local region, we’ll be leaning toward the local bid.”

Lands, buildings and parks committee chairman Harley Noland, D-at large, said the local preference is legal because funding for the project involves no state or federal dollars.

The work will include renovation of all three floors of city hall and a former boiler room in the adjacent Marietta Fire Department area for a new training room.

An elevator addition and modifications to sidewalks and driveways to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards will be included.

Estimated cost for the entire project is $1.6 million, which will be covered through the issuance of bond anticipation notes by the city.

“Our schedule is extremely tight, and we would like to have the legislation to go out for bids approved by Nov. 8,” Tucker said. The bid opening is scheduled for Dec. 3 and construction would begin Dec. 23.

He expects the renovation project will be completed by Aug.1, 2014.

In other business Thursday, the finance committee received good news from city auditor Sherri Hess.

“We just received our second half inheritance tax distribution from the county in the amount of $355,601.08,” she said. “And our first half came in earlier this year at $92,939, for a total $448,540.”

The inheritance tax is often referred to as the “death tax” because it is levied against property left to relatives by deceased family members.

The Ohio Legislature ended the inheritance tax at the beginning of this year, but Hess said many inheritances that occurred prior to 2013 continue to work their way through the probate process, which has resulted in the windfall received by the city this week.

She said more money could be expected next year, although the amount received in coming years will continue to diminish due to this year’s tax repeal.

In years past the annual inheritance tax has often provided a boost for depleted city coffers, with the tax in some years topping $500,000.