NEW BERLIN - Foregoing what officials see as a Band-Aid approach, the city utility committee has recommended that New Berlin invest in a $4.7 million rebuilt and expanded utility garage, rather than upgrading the current structure.

"It would cost so much to fix up the building, then, Like a Band-Aid it would last 10 years, and we would face the same decision," said New Berlin Alderman John Hopkins, a committee member.

The recommendation will head to the Common Council for consideration next month. Financing would come from wastewater reserve funds, fees and the 2017 capital improvement project budget.

Rates unaffected

"Rates will not increase because of this building," Hopkins said.

The garage/utility shop was built in 1958 to serve as a fire station until a station was built beside the safety building. The utility moved into the old station and in 1998 added the existing garage.

The current building is used to store and maintain equipment such as dump trucks and heavy pickup trucks.

Officials said the building has heating and electrical issues. Concerns for health and safety also have arisen because of lack of enough ventilation for vehicles being serviced and for welding done inside the building.

Equipment scattered

The building is too small to hold all the equipment, resulting in it being stored in various locations, officials said. Workers must move materials and equipment to start their daily assignments.

Officials put this inefficiency cost at more than $107,000 annually in employee wasted travel times.

The estimated repair cost is $1.4 million to $2.5 million, a consultant study found. It also found that the space issue would not be resolved, so the inefficiency of gathering materials and equipment would persist.

The committee also recommend using a construction manager to guide and keep an eye on the building process.

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