Mayor wants to spend 4.5 million instead of 1.7 million

Claim:  The Mayor wants to spend 4.5 million relocating City Hall, rather than 1.7 million renovating it.

Claim rating: Pants on fire

Source of Claim:  This claim was made on a Republican Candidate Flyer that was paid for by the Warren County Republican Committee, Douglas Steinhardt, Chairman.  More information will be published in another fact check about how the Phillipsburg Republican candidates are being funded by organizations outside Phillipsburg and why that is not to Phillipsburg's benefit.

First, let us start off with this set of facts before we address the dollar amounts:

  • Whether the Municipal building is relocated or renovated, it is going to be a huge expense to the residents of Phillipsburg, and the residents of Phillipsburg have a right to be angry having to bear the cost of either building a new Municipal Building or remediating the existing Municipal Building.
  • The reason the Municipal building has to be either relocated or renovated is due to black mold throughout the building. The black mold is in the asbestos and throughout the structure in many parts of the building.
  • The building was infested with black mold when Mayor Ellis walked in the door on the first day on the job as Mayor. Mayor Ellis inherited the issue of a Municipal building infested with black mold.
  • The reason the black mold exists is that the previous Republican Mayor, Harry Wyant, and the previous Republican administration replaced an air-conditioning unit in the Municipal building without the proper planning and engineering. The previous Republican administration was penny-wise and pound-foolish, and tried to do something on the cheap.  The decision of the previous Republican Mayor and administration will cost the taxpayers of Phillipsburg at least $4.5 million.  To put what the impact of this is on the taxpayers, the total yearly Town of Phillipsburg Municipal tax burden is approximately $10 million dollars. The additional cost that has been thrust on the Phillipsburg taxpayer by the previous Republican administration is approximately half of an entire year's Phillipsburg Municipal tax burden.

The original cost estimate for building a new Municipal building was $3,300,000.  However, there has been an increase in building new costs due to the Armory revision, with the additional asbestos remediation and the technical requirements for the police.   The police and public safety department, relocating with the police, have very sensitive and expensive communication equipment.  We have been told they CANNOT operate without this equipment.  Relocating them to renovate the existing building would be a huge waste of money.  By renovating the Armory and moving the police there permanently, we are avoiding the cost of renovating and equipping another space for their use temporarily, which would all be lost when we return to the original location. 

Currently, the cost to build a new Municipal building is estimated at $4,500,000.  The cost to renovate the existing Municipal building is $4,500,714.

As you can see, the assertion that "Mayor Ellis is making a decision to waste $4.5 million relocating City Hall, rather than $1.7 million renovating it" is totally false and untrue.

Documentation is posted below.  Click on the picture if you wish to download the pdf version of the document.