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Hiram votes to renovate old bank
by Adam Elrod
May 16, 2013 08:27 AM | 1814 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hiram council members last week narrowly approved a plan for converting a former bank building into a city community and senior center.

The council voted to approve the use of 2011 Special Purpose Sales Tax funds, designated for recreation project use, to renovate the city-owned property at 855 Hiram-Douglasville Hwy., known locally as the old Regions Bank building.

Renovations will cost a total not to exceed $321,842, according to the motion. The vote was 3-2 for the project, with Post 2 Councilwoman Kathy Bookout and Post 5 Councilwoman Earlene Graham voting against.

“I really wanted to table it to find out if we can lower the cost,” Graham said.

City Manager Robbie Rokovitz said the city plans to renovate the building so it has an open floor plan.

It will be used as a senior center and a community center, he said.

In total after purchase of the building and the renovations the cost for the community center will be about $500,000, paid for through the 1 percent sales tax.

“It was a lot more than what it needed to be,” Graham said.

Bookout said she voted against the plan because she did not want to spend that much money on the project.

“I don’t think they will ever recoup the money,” she said.

In the current down economy she does not see generating the money through rental fees, she said.

Post 3 Councilwoman Teresa Philyaw motioned for the renovation.

“Since we are not using general fund money we thought, ‘Let’s just go for it,’” she said.

In a look at the usage of the current city community center from June 2012 to June 2013 city records show it booked 65 percent of the available time, said City Clerk Cynthia Geyer. This includes rental and city use of the building.

City officials will determine a fee amount at a later date.

Philyaw said, “It [rental fee] will be to cover the cost of utilities.”

The city wants to be able to provide another service to its residents, she said.

Since the money comes from the sales tax it must be used by the city before 2017 or Hiram will lose the funds, she said.

Also at the meeting Mayor Doris Devey administered the oath of office and loyalty oath to Chief of Police Todd VandeZande and city Prosecuting Attorney and Solicitor Victoria Aronow.

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