WARREN - The final City Council vote in the administration's effort to purchase the Gibson Building for $2.5 million is expected to take place during tonight's regular meeting.
During a special meeting Tuesday afternoon, council members voted 9-0 to pass the legislation into the second of three readings. The vote came after members went behind closed doors in an executive session to hear details about the condition of the building from city building official Chris Tanneyhill.
Earlier, during council's finance committee meeting, Mayor Doug Franklin criticized a paid newspaper advertisement by DiPaolo Industrial Development LLC, which has been attempting to convince the administration to consider the purchase of a portion of the former Delphi plant on Dana Street for $4.25 million instead of purchasing the Gibson building.
DiPaolo Industrial Development has been proposing building a state-of-the-art 125,000-square-foot facility in which it will sell 55,000 square feet to the city. The administration and council members were shown artist renderings of the proposed facility in October 2012 and rejected what was then a $9.5 million price tag.
Earlier this year, DiPaolo came back with a new proposal, initially dropping the price to $5 million by taking out what was referred to as some the green elements and other ''extravagants.'' In addition, DiPaolo alluded to some tax abatements that would further reduce cost of the building to $4.26 million.
After Tuesday night's vote, Sergio DiPaolo said the building's renovation could be completed in five months, depending on weather conditions.
"Instead of spending $4 million to upgrade various buildings around the city to house employees, another $2.5 million to purchase the Gibson building and additional money to repair its roof, the city can get a turn key facility in which nothing will have to be done for 20 years," he said.
Franklin, frustrated with the advertisement, challenged DiPaolo's company to give the public tours of the Dana Street facility as it is right now.
"The building he is showing in the renderings does not exist," he said. "If, for whatever reasons, the Gibson building purchase fell through, I would not recommend this building."
Franklin insinuated there are reasons DiPaolo was able to get the former Delphi plant buildings for $80,000.
"We would like him to use his own money to fix it up," Franklin said. "Once Mr. DiPaolo completes the building with his own money, instead of trying to use taxpayers to do it for him, then we might be able to help him get someone into the facility."
Councilman John Brown, D-3rd Ward, asked about the amount of rent currently being paid by the tenants - Social Security Administration and the WIC program. Both programs are locked into leases through 2017.
"Combined, they currently are paying approximately $290,000 a year," Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa said.
Under a 20-year payment for the Gibson building, city auditor Dave Griffing said the city would make annual payments of about $150,000 for the property.
If the two organizations choose to renew their leases after 2017, their payments likely will be a reduced because the current payment includes specific improvement costs that are expected to drop off at the same time the leases end. That reduction could reduce the tenants annual costs to about $240,000 a year.
"Considering that we were looking to build a $10.5 million one-stop building a year ago, we can afford to pay for the Gibson building even without the tenants," Franklin said. "With the tenants paying more than the cost of the annual payment, it is even a greater value for our taxpayers."
Brown added that the city is getting nearly the same amount of space the city would have gotten with the one-stop at one-fourth the price.
The city is looking to buy a building to move employees that currently work in 418 Main St. S.W., which the city suggests is in bad condition and would cost too much to rehabilitate.