The funding mechanisms are in place to renovate Quincy's Old City Hall and the Coddington Building next to old Quincy High School.
The City Council's approval on Monday of an $18 million bond to perform the renovations came shortly after the city’s Community Preservation Committee authorized the spending of $550,000 annually to service the debt.
Initially, city officials wanted to use $900,000 from the CPC, which gets its money through a 1 percent surcharge on property taxes, with the funds partially matched by the state. Annually, Quincy receives over $1 million to put toward historic preservation, the purchase of open space, and the building of affordable housing.
Councilors were unsure about the concept of putting more than half of the city’s annual CPC funds to one project, especially because the life of the bond would be 30 years.
As a result, Mayor Thomas Koch reduced the CPC appropriation for the debt. The remaining debt, which will cost anywhere from $900,000 to a little over $1 million each year - will be paid off by the city.
“The mayor recognized there was some serious concerns with using that much money, so we went to CPC and knocked that appropriation in half to $550,000…it’s still about half of the as opposed of 100 percent of appropriation,” mayoral spokesperson Christopher Walker said.
Councilor Margaret Laforest was unconvinced that the figure was reduced enough.
Because the city will be recouping rental costs of nearly $500,000 once the renovations are complete, the project should only need $400,000 annually, she said.
Yet according to Walker, the debt payment will cost more than $900,000 in some years, which requires the appropriation to be higher.
For Councilor Brian McNamee, the appropriation was a bold and necessary step.
“If we’re going to be successful, we have to communicate to potential investors that the city also wants to preserve and make sure our public assets are as the best as they can be. With these two public buildings and by spending these moneys, we will communicate to the world at large that we care and are willing to invest,” he said.
Councilor Kevin Coughlin, who also is vice chairman of the CPC, said the committee did not take the deliberation of this funding lightly, and the matter was vigorous debated.
The vote was 7-to-1 within CPC to support the measure.
“There are a lot of good, dedicated people that serve. They understand the weight of the responsibility of their stewardship of those funds, and it was a cerebral approach to this,” Coughlin said.
Councilor Joseph Finn again voiced displeasure about the way this matter was undertaken by the council, saying it was essentially a fait d’accompli.
“Things were moved out [of Old City Hall], everything happened long before this approval to actually provide the resources and money came before this body. I’m not going to support this because of that,” Finn said. “I want to make it clear as long as I’m in this finance chair position, I will work strongly towards making sure something like this does not happen again. It should come before us in timely fashion, not under the premise that it’s a done deal.”
The motion was passed in a vote of 8 to 1.