The Athens City Council did a bit of municipal piggy-bank shaking in a Friday work session, but they were able to come close to finding enough money to pay for furnishing and equipping the new police building.

Construction on the building on East Hobbs at Shaw streets is progressing according to schedule and Public Works Department Director James Rich told councilmen Friday that workmen should be finishing detail work in late October and the Police Department could move in before the end of the year.

Pearce Construction of Huntsville was the low bidder of seven firms at $2.9 million.

Rich said construction is far enough along that he is ready to lead a tour of city officials through the site at mid-week.

The council tallied up the cost of furnishings, which include: landscaping, $25,000; radio tower, $10,064; phone system, $47,449; file system, $72,300, and furniture, $130,000.

Finance Administrator Evan Thornton outlined several sources of funds that could be allocated to the $284,000 total for furnishing the Police Department. Among those sources are: Municipal Courts, $11,000; police forfeitures, $42,000; left-over tornado clean-up funds, $30,000; General Fund, $30,000; estimated tax savings from the city purchasing building materials for the police building instead of contractors, $50,000; interest from 2002 and 2005 warrants, $100,000.

Council President Ronnie Marks expressed satisfaction with the $263,000 in available funds, saying it comes closer to the estimated cost of furniture and equipment than he had anticipated. Marks praised Rich for putting the plan in place for the city to purchase the building materials rather than contractors, because the city can get a sales tax break.

Rich, however, requested that Police Chief Wayne Harper check to see how much it would cost to use a microwave system in place of the $10,064 radio tower.

“With a tower, you would have to have guide wires for support,” said Rich. “If we could put a microwave on an existing utility tower it would be better.”

Harper said that the specifications on the radio tower are that it is self-supported and would not require guide wires, but the chief agreed a microwave radio system on the utility tower would be preferable and said he would check into the cost to see how much more it would be.

Marks also asked Harper if it is possible to add modules to the file system as they are needed rather than spending the entire $72,300 up front.

Rich said that the tracks for the sliding system, which will also store Municipal Court records, are being installed as part of construction. Harper said the file system could be added to in later increments, spreading the cost out to next year’s budget.

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