The final price tag for Cottage Grove's largest public building project is smaller than estimated.

Project costs for the new City Hall building near Keats Avenue came in under budget and more than $1 million below an earlier estimate, according to the latest city figures.

The total project cost for the 67,000-square-foot building is $14.99 million, City Administrator Ryan Schroeder told the City Council on Wednesday.

That includes $13.05 million for construction. After a final change order bill of $28,000 for follow-up work was approved at the Jan. 16 council meeting, total construction costs came in just above the $13.02 million bid awarded to Graham Construction in September 2011.

The $14.99 million project cost is below the $15.7 million estimate given the city by Wold Architects when the project was awarded. Wold designed the building.

The total project cost will further drop due to anticipated Xcel Energy rebates, environmental grants and other revenue totaling an estimated $120,000 in revenue, Schroeder said. That would bring the total to about $14.87 million.

The project is being paid for with funds the city had set aside for a new municipal building and through borrowing. City officials insist there will be no property tax increase to cover the building costs.

The building opened last fall, following a couple years of city planning and at-times intense citizen debate over the project. Council member Justin Olsen applauded Graham Construction for its ability to "navigate and tolerate some of the goofy stuff we had to go through" during debate about whether to replace the old city hall on 80th Street.

Mayor Myron Bailey acknowledged there were "times when I was wondering whether we were actually going to get this building built."

Bailey said most Cottage Grove citizens are proud of the building.

The building houses offices for city administrative staff as well as the Public Safety Department, including police officers and fire and EMT administrators. The lower level features expansive law enforcement space and an indoor garage for emergency vehicles.

The former city hall building at 80th Street and Hemingway Avenue is being transformed into a Business Enterprise Center with the goal of providing commercial space to emerging local private businesses at a discounted rate.