The Crossville City Council accepted a $1.6 million bid for renovation of the former Regions Bank building during a special-called meeting Tuesday afternoon. The building will become the new city hall.

Mid-State Construction of Livingston was the low bidder on the project, and the council accepted their bid with the provision it hold the price on a photovoltaic solar power system while the city investigates grant funding.

"My own two cents worth is, I would hate to look at that totally on economics because it is a demonstration project that the city would be putting forth as a great signal that they're interested in looking for alternatives," said Derrick Clemow, with Upland Design Group. "We've done green projects in the past and know that that speaks well for the builder and the user."

The photovoltaic system is an alternate in the bid package and removing it would reduce the cost $105,884, a price quoted by two bidders. Clemow said both general contractors intended to subcontract that project to Crossville companies Zuercher Electric and Simple Energy Works. After talking with the contractor, Clemow suggested the council could accept the bid but hold a decision on the photovoltaic system for 30 days while grant programs are investigated. He did caution the council that a decision on the system would need to be made soon because of the wiring and other work that will be needed to connect the system to a meter.

"It would take some coordination for getting the wiring and conduits pulled," Clemow said.

The annual savings with a photovoltaic system would be $627 a month, and payback on the system would take 14 years without grant assistance.

City Manager Bruce Wyatt said the city had learned of two grant programs it could apply for: one for 50 percent of the project cost and another that would cover 80 percent of the project cost.

"Our chance would be better with the 50-50 grant," he told the council.

Mayor J.H. Graham III said, "That's something to look at. If we can wait 30 days and the contractor has agreed to let us look at that, and possibly save the taxpayers a payback over seven years or three years, it might be worth the time to look at it."

Other bid alternates included eliminating demolition of the rooftop deck, delaying work on renovation of training room spaces, construction of an entry vestibule and casework reduction. Clemow said it would be best to complete that work during the renovation project, due to the economy achieved by including it in the larger project.

"The training room renovation is about $35,000. That is a significant cost, but if you do it later, it will cost more because the work is taking place in a finished space," Clemow told the council.

The entry vestibule will provide energy savings, as well, Clemow noted, reducing the warm air lost when exterior doors are opened.

If the demolition of the rooftop deck is not completed, Clemow said that space would not be suitable for use and doors leading to the deck would have to have signage saying the space was not for human occupancy. The deck project includes a removal of the old wood on the roof, a new paver system, new decking and railing to make it compliant with safety regulations.

Councilman Boyd Wyatt said, "$109,000 is a lot of money for a deck in a building we're doing business in."

Another bid alternate was the use of higher efficiency lighting fixtures than called for in the base bid. This would not be a reduction of bid prices, but an increase. Clemow said the base bid included lighting that was highly efficient, similar to what is in use in the current city hall, and the savings for the other fixtures would be over such a long term that he felt it wiser to stay with the specifications of the base bid.

A lighting control system was also a bid alternate, though Clemow said the state fire marshal was now evaluating building plans for incorporation of a mechanical or electric lighting system and such a system was necessary.

Councilman Danny Wyatt moved to accept the bid from Mid-State Construction, holding action on the photovoltaic system, supported by Councilman Earl Dean. The motion was approved with Danny Wyatt, Dean and Councilman George Marlow voting in favor and Boyd Wyatt and Graham voting no.

In other business, the council approved the second reading of a $350,000 budget amendment for completion of the Northwest Connector road project. The additional costs are from engineering costs and land acquisition for the road project from Northside Dr. at Hwy. 70 North to Sparta Highway near the Cumberland County Playhouse. Boyd Wyatt moved to approve, supported by Danny Wyatt. The motion passed with Graham and Marlow abstaining.

Under the consent agenda, the council approved sponsorship of the 2012 Tennessee Senior Men's Open at a cost of $12,500, and a request from the Art Circle Library to connect an electronic sign to the city lights at Webb Ave. and 2nd Street.