By a 4-1 vote, the board extended the lease, which was set to expire in December 2016, to run through Dec. 31, 2019. Voting in opposition was Director Celeste Farron.
The building is owned by Trimark Communities, one of the community’s master developers.
When the lease extension runs out, according to interim General Manager Gabe Karam, the plan is to move the government offices to the second floor of a 21,000-square-foot library expected to be completed in 2019 by developer Shea Homes.
Karam said the lease extension came with an agreement to reduce rental costs immediately, saving the community $15,000 each month. The current base rent from September to December this year is $136,500, but the renegotiated rent would be $81,375 through the end of December. The renegotiated rent would be $252,000 for 2015, down from $425,250; and $259,875 for 2016, instead of $442,575. The total savings amounts to $411,075 by the end of 2016, Karam said.
He said the district offices could stay in the library space for three or four years, until enough building permits are issued to trigger the construction of a town hall.
When reviewing the various options, Karam told the board extending the lease appeared to be the most feasible. He said the staff had also considered buying the building from Trimark — which was too costly — or moving into a temporary modular building near the treatment plant. He said the latter would require expensive road improvements.
During public comment, Janice McClintock, a Mountain House resident and former general manager, told the board she had understood that the library would not be built to its final size until the community reached a population of 40,000. The community now has about 12,000 residents.
Karam said he had talked to Shea officials, and they said the library was in their budget to build in 4½ years.
David Sargent, Shea Mountain House community development manager, told the board his company planned to build the library all at once rather than in phases. He wouldn’t agree to commit in writing, however, to the 21,000-square-foot size.
Director Jim Lamb said he felt the board should approve the lease extension, because every day of delay amounted to a loss of $500 in lease reductions.
Farron suggested waiting until the end of the week to give people in the community a couple of days to comment on options for new government offices. Lamb told her they probably couldn’t come up with an alternative that would save more than the estimated $400,000.
Director Andy Su agreed with Lamb, saying, “Look at the numbers. You can’t beat the $400,000 cost. It’s still the best deal.”
Board President Steven Gutierrez said the directors had to make the best decision possible, but he, like Farron, wanted to get firm information from Shea.
“If it doesn’t save dollars, it doesn’t make sense,” Director Bernice King Tingle said, suggesting that the board follow the recommendation of the general manager.
A motion by Lamb to adopt the lease extension was passed by a majority vote of the board.
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