BENSON — Benson City Council kicked off its first regularly scheduled meeting in 2021 by approving two new business agenda items.
The council appointed Mayor Joe Konrad to serve on the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System local boards for firefighters and police officers. Konrad will be replacing former Mayor Toney King, who has filled the chairman position for the past five years.
“The rules of the retirement system require that the chairman that serves on the public safety personnel retirement system local boards be the mayor of the city or designee,” City Manager Vicki Vivian explained to the council. “The board is made up of the mayor or designee, two citizens of the city and two members of the department, one being a secretary and the other a department member.”
The boards meet yearly to review the rules and decisions of the state board, and meet as needed when a member is retiring from the system.
Vivian said that on Jan. 12, 2015, council appointed Mayor Toney King to serve as the public safety personnel retirement system chair for both local boards. However, with the recent seating of the new mayor and council, a new chairman must be selected, Vivian said.
“Traditionally, it’s been the mayor that serves as that representative, so I’m willing to do that if the council approves it,” said Konrad, who was appointed to the position by a unanimous council vote.
Upon Konrad’s appointment, council member Barbara Nunn requested that the city consider holding some type of formal recognition for retiring police officers and firefighters.
“We’re losing them quickly here, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later so we give them some kind of recognition besides a plaque,” she said.
Konrad responded by acknowledging Nunn’s suggestion as “excellent” and said the council could make her suggestion a future agenda item for discussion.
In another new business item, council approved BWS Architects to proceed with architectural and engineering services for a modular building renovation and site plan in the amount of $50,871. The contracted amount is for the design and specs for redesigning the structure.
The modular building was purchased late last summer by the City of Benson from Fort Huachuca, after the military installation used it for a brief time as a veterinary hospital. Once renovations are completed to the modular building and site, the structure will serve as Benson’s temporary city hall while the current city hall — which has structural problems — is demolished and rebuilt.
“We got this building for next to nothing, and these costs are pretty minimal when compared to constructing something else,” Konrad said in a brief discussion prior to the council vote. Konrad also expressed concerns about mold that has been identified in the building the city currently is using, questioning whether it presents health risks to employees.
“I think we need to move forward as quickly as we can with the engineering so that we can move quickly with the (modular building) renovation itself.”
City Engineer and Public Works Director Brad Hamilton said he planned to contact the architectural firm Tuesday and would find out what its availability is. Hamilton plans to present the council with timelines once he knows when BWS is able to start the project.
“As far as mold in the building, I have tested the building several times and there are no identifiable dangerous molds,” Hamilton said.
Council member Lupe Diaz pointed to all the work that the building renovation plans will involve.
“There’s more to this architectural work than moving walls around,” Diaz said. “There’s electrical, plumbing, all kinds of mechanical engineering, mechanical systems for energy management and water harvesting, and computer systems in this. For $50,000, that is not a bad price ... This is really a great price for the work.”
Once the architectural side of the project is completed, council will be presented with another cost for the actual construction work the building will need.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is at 7 p.m. Jan. 25, which will be preceded by a 6 p.m. work session to address Prop. 207. The meetings are held at the former Benson Lions Club, 599 South Dragoon St.