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Commissioners to explore building master plan

POSTED: December 9, 2013 7:01 p.m.

Effingham County commissioners could make inroads next week on what offices will go where.


Commissioners are scheduled to conduct a workshop before next Tuesday’s regular meeting about a possible building master plan.


The county acquired the old Central School site from the Effingham County Board of Education, with an idea of turning the property into a social services hub. But, county staff and commissioners acknowledged, there are other building and space needs.


“We’ve been kicking around several projects in the short-term work program and building master plan,” interim county administrator Toss Allen said. “It’s dragged on for quite a while. A lot of that hinges on what we do with this building and what we do with office space.”


County director of community relations Adam Kobek said it has been staff’s intention to whittle down the possibilities before bringing any recommendations to the full board of commissioners.


“Every permutation creates a problem,” Kobek said.


Commissioners displayed reluctance to form a committee to explore options for where and how to configure offices and agencies.


“It’s tough because you can’t get enough people there to make a decision,” Commissioner Steve Mason said of such a committee.


“We ask staff to do things, and then whenever it’s brought to us,” Chairman Wendall Kessler said, “there might not be but one person on this board who thinks that’s a good idea. I know that’s a tough job for staff to do. But it’s a hard thing to get five or six people to agree on one thing.”


But the chairman also expressed a desire to come up with a solution to the county’s building needs.


“This county has always reacted to problems,” he said. “We need to figure out where we need to be and figure out how do we get there. We need a full board to figure out where we need to be and why and how we get there. We’ve got to come up with a plan and go forward.”


Kessler also reiterated his wish to centralize county government functions, even if it means re-locating the main offices from the administrative complex.


“Do we need to be here? I don’t know the answer,” he said. “I’m convinced we can put government together and we can save money and we can operate in a cohesive, central location and save enough money to pay for a facility. I’m convinced of that.”


Mason noted the parking congestion around county offices in downtown Springfield now and the problems of the current administrative complex.


“This building is getting old,” he said.


The county administrative complex also has a leaky roof, which Allen estimated has been patched “a half a dozen times.”


“Every time we patch it, it moves over a few feet,” he said.


The price to replace the roof has been quoted as approximately $17,000. Allen also said there are other problems as well.


“The walls are separating,” he said. “There are other issues we’re going to have to deal with.”

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