New lighting and HVAC systems are planned next year for Whitehall City Hall, along with lighting upgrades at the police and fire departments and the city's service-department facility.

New lighting and HVAC systems are planned next year for Whitehall City Hall, along with lighting upgrades at the police and fire departments and the city's service-department facility.

Representatives from ABM, a facilities-solutions specialist, outlined the proposed upgrades at the request of Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard at the Nov. 24 meeting of City Council committees.

Maggard described the quality of the heating and cooling at City Hall as "horrible," especially during seasonal transitions.

"And we have an antiquated lighting system," she said.

City Hall opened in 1962, the police department in 1973, and the fire department in 1998.

The original HVAC remains in place at City Hall.

"We just put Band-Aids on it every year," City Auditor Dan Miller said Nov. 25.

The boiler at the Whitehall police department is not expected to pass inspection next year, said Jeff Hart, a facilities and maintenance technician for Whitehall.

Hart told council members there are few specialists remaining in central Ohio trained to repair the city's equipment and it has become more common for it to require several days or a week to scour for replacement parts in low supply.

Hart said thermostats in city buildings lack the technology to self-adjust; most lighting systems are not energy-efficient; and the cost of freon the city uses is excessively high.

Maintenance costs also are a significant factor, Hart said.

Six pounds of the freon type needed to recharge leaking air-conditioning systems is about $3,500, Hart said.

Representatives from ABM surveyed City Hall and the safety-services buildings on South Yearling Road, as well as the service-department facility on Poth Road, before providing an assessment at the Nov. 24 meeting of council committees.

Robert Wood, an account executive for ABM, said addressing "decades of deferred maintenance can be a challenge" but there is a solution for the city.

Wood said Whitehall can take advantage of an Ohio Revised Code policy that allows cities to apply monetary savings realized from new energy-efficient lighting, HVAC and other upgrades toward the cost of the upgrades.

"We really don't have a choice; we have to do this ... I just didn't want you to be surprised. This is a big process," Maggard told council members.

Auditor Dan Miller said the projects at all four buildings would cost about $1.4 million, for which the city would issue debt.

Miller estimated the city would save about $39,373 annually as a result of energy-efficient HVAC and lighting and other upgrades.

The annual debt service would be about $116,018 and the city would pay the difference from its general fund.

The debt would be retired in 15 years and the city would continue to reap increasing annual savings in electricity and other utility costs, Miller said.

The project as proposed does not include any upgrades at Whitehall Community Park, but Miller prepared financials for $2 million in comparative debt service and energy savings for a 15-year term in the event that facility is to be included.

Councilman Bob Bailey appeared in support of the proposal.

"It sounds like it will pay for itself," Bailey said.

Request for qualifications and proposals from contractors will be sought in December, Maggard said.

A final presentation for council is planned in March; financing is scheduled for completion in April.

The project is expected to begin in April and conclude in November 2016.