By Joe Bachman
A proposal to replace the decades old lobby and office furniture in city hall was voted down at Tuesday’s common council meeting.
The common council voted against the request by a 5-3 vote, following public debate through social media, which saw both support and disapproval.
The Finance & Property committee initially approved a $13,000 overhaul to the first and second floor lobbies of city hall, including approximately $6,600 in upgrades to Mayor Zach Vruwink’s third floor lobby.
The mayor’s office had been slated for nearly $10,000 in upgrades in furniture, including a $5,154 desk and credenza as well as the office of Executive Coordinator Jennifer Clark, which had been approved for approximately $8,500 in upgrades including a $6,800 work space.
The original furniture has been in place since it was built in 1978.
Alderperson Tom Rayome was the only member of the council to speak on the matter last night.
“I’ve had a few calls on this,” said alderperson Tom Rayome. “I think we could get furniture at a cheaper price that would do the job.”
According to city documents, records show that the planning & economic development and engineering department received $8,852 in office furniture replacement in 2011, the police department received over $25,000 in furniture replacement from 2012-2014, approximately $14,000 in furniture replacement for the engineering department in 2015, and over $16,000 in furniture replacement for the finance department in 2016.
City documents show that the cost of the furniture would have been taken from replacement funds for this specific purpose, which were established years ago. The desire to upgrade the furniture stemmed from a perceived lack of modern ergonomic design and functionality.
“The office furniture needs to be replaced”, said Mayor Vruwink. “It’s beyond it’s useful life and it has ergonomic problems which our health coordinator has identified from a workplace standpoint.”
There is potential for this matter to come back to the council, but at the moment nothing is being discussed.
“It certainly won’t come back in it’s current form, and there’s pieces of it that need to be done more than others,” said Vruwink. I haven’t spoken to council members about their solutions on the matter other than denying it.”