City moves forward with $235,000 plans to upgrade council chambers
Shawnee The city is moving forward with plans to upgrade the City Council chambers at a cost of $235,000 to redesign the room and upgrade the room's audio and visual components.
The City Council approved the preliminary construction plans on Tuesday with a 4-3 vote in favor of the project. Council members Dan Pflumm, Eric Jenkins and Mike Kemmling voted against the measure.
The city has been working for months on designing a new council chamber that would be more conducive to civic engagement and one that would bring the room's technology up to date. Council Member Brandon Kenig said the approved plan does just that with the amount of money available for the project through the city's budget.
Under the preliminary construction plan, the council chamber will replace the current wooden pews with 79 new chairs at a cost of about $13,000. The new capacity for the room will be trimmed from its current number of 90 people to 79. The room will also be redesigned to bring the council dais closer to the audience, leaving room for a council conference room behind a newly constructed wall.
The new dais will be wheelchair accessible and will include bulletproof kevlar paneling at a cost of about $3,300. The dais will also include individual monitors for council members.
The room will be refinished with new carpet and paint and will serve as a multifunctional room for other city meetings.
The audio and visual upgrades to the room make up the biggest expense in the remodel. The upgrade will improve the audio quality and add four 70-inch LED/HD flatscreen TVs, two positioned behind the dais and two mounted to walls in the middle of the room. Those items along with other upgrades will cost about $68,000.
Pflumm said he was hoping that the money for the project would also be able to open up the back portion of the room for better accessibility to the room for the public. City Clerk Stephen Powell said opening up the back of the room was considered but would exceed the maximum cost for the project.
To trim costs, the council conference room behind the new dais will not be finished and the city will use its current staff tables, lectern and microphones.
Council members Pflumm and Jenkins expressed confusion with how these upgrades could cost so much when Jenkins said he could build a house for the same amount of money. Jenkins also said the proposed upgrades to the current chamber are not necessary for the City Council and city to perform their duties for the citizens of Shawnee.
"This is all want," Jenkins said. "None of this is necessary."
Council Member Jeff Vaught said that the city needs this facelift in the council chamber to exude the image Shawnee wants to be known for.
"I think we need to portray a quality image, and this isn't it," Vaught said.
Vaught said the price for the remodel lines up with his experience in real estate and felt the city was getting a fair price.
To pay for the project, the city is using $35,000 from the 2014 City Council and City Manager general funds along with $200,000 from the 2015 and 2016 equipment and facility reserve funds.
The last time the the chamber room was remodeled was in 1990. Since then, only the carpet and the benches for the public seating, which were donated by a church, have been replaced.