By Deb Murphy
Mono County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to go with building the South County office facility on the Sierra Park Road McFlex property.
Given the option of purchasing and renovating Mammoth Mall, the new-build will require a bigger financial outlay, but that was one of only a few plusses for the mall option in assistant CAO Tony Dublino’s presentation at last Tuesday’s board meeting.
With a purchase price of $6 million, another $6.4 million for improvements, $727,000 for off-site parking and $1.5 million for the cost of bond issuances, the total price tag for Mammoth Mall ends up at $14.84 million. Add in more than $9 million in interest costs and the county would end up paying more than $26 million.
On the other hand, McFlex construction costs and cost of bond issuance comes to $20 million with a cumulative cost of $42.7 million.
When comparative operating costs and the unknown price of resolving current leases at the Mall are factored in, McFlex doesn’t look quite as pricey. According to Finance Director Janet Dutcher, the County currently pays $737,000 for leased offices at Sierra Center Mall with $448,000 in annual operating costs. Multiply that out over the 35-year term of the McFlex option payments. The total is $1.2 million more for McFlex. Assuming the Sierra Center Mall lease and costs will increase in the next 35 years, McFlex comes in as a less expensive option.
Addressing the total cost of new construction, Supervisor John Peters referenced criticism the County would be “kicking the repayment can” down to the community’s grand kids. “But others have kicked the can down to us,” he said. Chairman Bob Garden stressed the 10 to 12-percent difference in cost is not significant. “The focus is on the long-term,” he said. “The key is to serve the public and community with a safe, secure facility.”
The next step: staff will negotiate and finalize the contract for design and construction with the selected design-build entity.