|Some of the displays inside the museum will be moved and others will be expanded when the new addition to the building is added.|
Helper City Council reviewed plans by Citadel Drafting Services for an expansion of the Helper Mining and Railroad Museum and approved the placement of advertisements calling for bids from contractors in regional newspapers. The council met in May 19 in a regular city council meeting to approve the motion.
Plans call for an expansion to the north of the museum. Along with adding needed floor space to the museum, the addition will house an elevator to access all four floors of the museum. Plans indicate that the elevator will be large enough to transport display cases and handle large groups of people.
In order to power the elevator, the electrical system in the museum must be upgraded. Currently, the museum is powered in one phase, and the elevator will require that to be upgraded to three phases.
As Citadel presented their final plans to the council, they explained that as the bids are reviewed, the city should use a value-based selection.
This involves looking at how contractors plan to deal with closing main street, the time frame for completion, overall cost and how the contractor plans to set up staging areas. This means that the council would not simply choose the lowest bidder, but would choose the bidder with the greatest value.
Plans also call for the relocating of a rail car and heavy equipment on display north of the museum. The rail car will be moved to accommodate both the new addition as well as space for the contractor's trailer and equipment. Some of the heavy equipment will need to be relocated.
Museum planners suggested that some of the heavy equipment be moved to areas along Main Street in Helper to create a unified look throughout the town.
Since Helper is designated as a historic district, the foundation of a house that stood where the proposed construction will occur will need to be excavated to search for artifacts. This will require the excavation by hand of the foundation of the house as well as a garage.
Members of the museum planning committee had looked at the possibility of moving Big John, the statue of a miner in front of the Helper City Library and Auditorium, but in light of the changes that will be occurring, backed out of that plan.
In an unrelated matter, the council approved a tentative budget. State law requires that each municipality approve a tentative budget in May and that a final budget be approved in June.
The budget for Helper this year includes grant revenues and expenditure of those grants. So there are some sharp increases in expenditure in some department. For instance, the Helper Police Department shoes an increase in their budget of near $180,000. However, more than $120,000 of that amount is expected in the form of grants.
City Recorder Jona Skerl explained that the increased expenditures would only be allowed if the grants were received.
In previous years grants and expenditure of those grants was added into the budget as grants were received.
"If we didn't get grants in Helper, we wouldn't exist," said Mayor Joseph Bonacci.
The change in recording expected grants created some concern among council members, who wanted to make sure that the increases in spending would not be allowed without the grants.
"I think every department head needs to get a copy of the budget and that they are responsible for it," suggested Chuck Buchanan. He suggested there should be more oversight, possibly on a quarterly basis, for keeping the various departments in line with the budget.
The mayor was quick to point out that the budget, as it is approved each year, is nothing more than a guess as top what revenues and expenditures, and that the council will still need to make changes to the final budget as time goes on.
The council approved the tentative budget and will finalize the budget in work meetings before approving it in a June council meeting.