ST. JOSEPH - Plans for a new St. Joseph Government Center have taken a big step forward. The city council tonight (Tuesday) approved the bids for the project, which will allow for construction to begin on April 4th.

The new more-then-18,000 square foot building will be built just to the west of Colts Academy, on the property the city bought last fall.

City Administrator Judy Weyrens says they'll be using Capital Improvement Bonds to finance the project, which could cost the owner of a $150,000 home about $100 a year in property taxes for the next 20 years. However, all the financing has not been finalized.

So we're using the Capital Improvement Bonds, but the sources of revenue to pay down that debt has yet to be determined. It will be a combination of profits from the sale of this building probably, it could be sales tax, and then tax levy.

Weyrens says the total cost for the project is about $4.8 million.

It will be a stand-alone building, with the potential to one day connect it to Colts Academy, which will eventually converted into a community center.

The new St. Joseph Government Center is expected to be open in February of next year.

Meanwhile, Weyrens says they're getting close to finalizing the sale of their current city hall.

Back last year in September the city authorized an appraisal of this building. Before we even had the appraisal we were contacted by somebody that was interested in purchasing it. So we saved the cost of using a realtor. And so as soon as we got the appraisal, we had entertained the idea of his proposal for the purchase agreement, and it came within the appraisal price. So we have not met with anybody else.

Weyrens says they expect to finish the sale on April 4th. The city has used the current building -- which is a former bank -- since 2000.

District 742 is still occupying the current Colts Academy building - which is the former Kennedy Elementary School. They are scheduled to vacate that building by July of next year.

St. Joseph Government Center.  (Image courtesy of the City of St. Joseph)