KATY (FOX 26) - The City of Katy is moving! It's leaving one side of Avenue C, going to the other, but the change from old to new is quite dramatic. From a one story, nondescript building, it's moving into a 3-story building with tall white pillars and a clock tower.
City Administrator, Byron Hebert, says the beauty of the building is one of the best things about it.
"We did a survey for the people of Katy," Hebert tells Fox26. "The survey came back unanimous, that they wanted a traditional, hometown, USA building. That's what I hope, when you look at it, we deliver."
Monday was the first day to start moving furniture from one building to another. The city will move in over a two week period, and become fully functional in the new building by June 1st.
Hebert believes the public will find the new Katy City Hall very convenient.
"When we designed the building, we wanted to make sure it was efficient and served all purposes," Hebert says. "On the first floor is where the public interaction is. You pay your water bill and your utility bill from an entrance off Avenue D. To pick up a permit, come off of 2nd Street. And to come to council meetings, use either the Avenue D or Avenue D entrances."
The council chambers are bigger. Hebert says it will fit about 65 seats more than Katy's current council chambers. But they've considered overflow viewing, too. There are windows from the lobby that look in to council chambers, and monitors in the lobby to hear the meeting.
Another public convenience is something Hebert calls JACK. That stands for Justified Automated Collection Kiosk. It's outside, on the Avenue D side of the building, so people can pay their city utility bills 24/7.
There are technological advances over the building the City of Katy has been in for 42 years, of course, but it's still a modest building.
"I was the Finance Director before I became the Administrator, and one thing about the town that I've learned is, it's very conservative," Hebert says. "Do we want it to look new and nice for the public? Yes, of course. But it is a government building, and we need to understand it's the public's money. When it's the public's money, you need to make sure you're doing the right thing."
You won't find luxuries in the new city hall. The city's not buying all new furniture either. The current furniture is being moved into the new building, even for the Mayor's office.
Hebert says, where there is carpeting, they chose to use the same tile carpet throughout. That means stains and carpet wear can be replaced in small pieces.
They also made the decision to install LED lighting in the hallway, to get a utility rebate.
The price tag is $8.1 Million. That's about $600,000 above the original budget due to changes made on the clock tower, and added cost for Information Technology. Nevertheless, Katy is paying cash, because the money is coming from city reserves.
"We put money away saying, 'Okay, this is going to come,' and we had the money to do it," Hebert says.
Even though the new city hall will be functional June 1st, the grand opening celebration is on June 10th. That's when the public is invited to come out and enjoy the city's new home with refreshments and tours of the building.