MADEIRA BEACH — Within about 60 days, the city will get its first peek at what future public buildings could look like and learn how much a new City Hall, Fire Department and public works building might cost.
That is when Wannemacher Jensen Architects will present a variety of "design options" for the city's municipal complex.
One key issue to be decided by the City Commission is where garbage trucks will be housed, and how much longer the city will continue to operate its sanitation department.
The building project costs are certain to reach in the multimillions, money the city already has on hand, according to City Manager Shane Crawford.
"They have enough money in the bank to pay outright for a $3 or $4 million structure and still have a healthy reserve fund," he said Tuesday.
No financing decision has been made as yet, and issuing long-term bonds or borrowing from a bank are options.
What the commission does agree on, however, is that the nearly 50-year-old City Hall is badly deteriorating and is beyond reasonable repair.
The Fire Department is connected to the City Hall and would be replaced as well.
Then there is the city's public works building, which Crawford says should be torn down.
"We need to make plans for it to go away. I want to wrap that baby up in yellow tape and knock that thing down, it is that bad," Crawford told the commission a week ago.
The vacated building where parts of the roof continue to cave in is next to the city's marina.
The city's garbage trucks now sit outside and are taken off-site for maintenance.
Earlier this year, the commission wanted to bring those trucks to a rebuilt municipal complex at the present City Hall site.
Residents in the area objected to that idea, citing anticipated noise and odors.
Last week, some commissioners appeared ready to consider eliminating the city's sanitation department entirely rather than build a new structure to house the trucks.
Commissioner Nancy Oakley wants a complete cost comparison to put to voters. The analysis would include building a public works structure at either City Hall or at its present location at the marina, as well as what savings would be realized if the garbage service were shut down.
"I want to take the numbers back to citizens and see what they think, if they want to spend this much money or outsource sanitation," she said.
Vice Mayor Robin Vander Velde went a step further, asking if the city could eliminate the sanitation service in next year's budget.
Crawford cautioned the commission against building a storage facility for garbage trucks at the City Hall site, suggesting instead that a "glorified pole shed" should be built at the marina.
A multimillion-dollar public works building would "marry" the city to continuing to operate a sanitation department "for the next 50 years," an expensive proposition, Crawford said.
The city currently spends about $350,000 a year to operate the garbage service.
Each of the city's five garbage trucks is worth about $200,000 and must be maintained and eventually replaced.
Residents pay for the service through monthly fees, subsidizing shortfalls through property taxes.
"I have loyalty to the present employees, but not to filling vacant positions," Crawford said, suggesting the commission should let the service gradually be phased out.
The architects met with department heads and the city staff last week to determine future needs for all city operations.
The commission wants the new City Hall and fire station to complement the waterfront environment of the City Hall site and include state-of-the-art technology.
The new City Hall also could include multiple public auditoriums, a satellite post office, and fitness center for both firefighters and the public.
The municipal complex redesign also could include the adjacent library and recreation facilities and ball fields.
"We want to help create a very compelling master plan vision for city," architect Lisa Wannemacher told the commission.