Last year the council set aside $70,000 for design and $400,000 for construction of the center, which would be paid for entirely by hotel occupancy tax funds.
Jackson Galloway Architects facility manager Ray Creswell told council members June 2 the project will likely cost $638,173 as the plans stand, but with add-ons could be as much as $841,450.
Several council members said they were surprised by the estimate, which at the base, includes a reception area, closed offices, staff work rooms, meeting space, a prep kitchen and an area for retail and merchandising.
Suggested options include rain gutters, replacing 20-year-old HVAC systems, installing a fire sprinkler system and furniture.
The visitors center falls under the provisions for what hotel occupancy tax funds can be utilized. At the end of fiscal year 2019, Buda had $1.23 million in HOT funds available. At the current estimates, the project could leave the fund balance at $414,000-$489,000. No money from the general fund would be used for the project.
With that comes the uncertainty of HOT funds through coronavirus. Mayor George Haehn and council members talked about the effect low hotel occupancy could slow growth of the fund for future projects.
The project, if approved, would go to bid in September according to the timeline. Creswell said the bidding process could bring down the price.
The council will discuss the project’s future at the June 16 city council meeting.