06/20/12 — City ponders building roof repairs

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City ponders building roof repairs

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on June 20, 2012 1:46 PM

The city of Goldsboro will once again dip into its tourism coffer, this time to pay for roof repairs at the former Arts Council of Wayne County building.

The city is in the midst of what Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan on Monday began calling a feasibility study to determine whether an Air Force museum can be housed there.

The Goldsboro City Council voted April 3 to use $163,500 from the Occupancy Tax Fund to enter a contract with Verner Johnson, a museum planning firm, and dipped into the fund again at its June 4 meeting for $9,000 in maintenance costs for the building.

The Occupancy Tax Fund is made up of taxes levied on hotel rooms -- something made possible through state law in 1991 as a means for the city to fund a civic center. Due to a study showing the civic center was not feasible at the time, the law also allowed for the money to be split up between Travel and Tourism and another line item to be used for improving, leasing, constructing, financing, operating or acquiring facilities and properties.

Ms. Logan and Chief Inspector Ed Cianfarra explained to the council on Monday that the rubber roof on the structure needs to be replaced, but since it may be converted into an Air Force museum, they felt a temporary solution would suffice.

Cianfarra explained that the seams in the roof were beginning to deteriorate.

"We don't want to put in a replacement now," he said, later adding that a replacement would cost about $150,000. "So we said, 'What can we do to get us a roof to last one to two years?'"

Two answers emerged to that question, he said. The city could pay to either put an elastic coating on the roof's seams to keep rainwater out for a little less than $10,000 or could put the elastic coating on the entire roof for a little more than $30,000.

The second, more costly option, however, would come with a five-year warranty, Cianfarra noted.

Staff suggested the option that included the warranty, although District 2 Councilman Bob Waller said he liked the inexpensive option.

"I would think the $9,000 one is the way to go if you do anything," he said.

But District 6 Councilman Jackie Warrick reminded Waller of the warranty, which Waller appeared to have missed during the presentation.

Mayor Pro Tempore Chuck Allen then noted that the implementation of the Air Force museum plan and installation of a new roof could be as many as five years away, so the warranty was likely the way to go.

Ms. Logan said staff will bring back an ordinance for the repairs, likely at the July 9 council meeting.

Cianfarra said that staff members noticed major leaks in the roof following Hurricane Irene, which led the city to submit a request for the damages to be covered through a FEMA reimbursement.

That claim was denied because there were roof leaks prior to the storm.

In fact, during Jerry Hodge's structural engineer report in May of 2011 when the city was still considering purchasing the building, Hodge explained that the roof would need to be replaced even then, offering a suggestion that the cost may run about $200,000.

That $20,000 report was another expense paid with money from the Occupancy Tax Fund and highlighted another $1.2 million in repairs necessary to prevent the building from becoming "a maintenance and budget headache."

Ms. Logan said that following Irene, staff members thought the building had suffered significant roof damage, but because of previous leaks, the claim was denied. Cianfarra confirmed that the hurricane did cause some damage to the roof and that it wasn't all from before the storm, but that's not enough for federal emergency aid.

"It is very difficult to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the damage incurred was due to the hurricane," Cianfarra explained, adding the prior leaks made the claim null and void. "It has to be a perfect claim for FEMA to make a payment. When FEMA comes into town, all the damage that they are going to pay for has to be solely as a result of that specific incident."