Regional redesign stalls progress with new HHS buildingWhile Goodhue County commissioners heard the most recent construction estimate for a new Health and Human Services building at their Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday, they were still unsure of whether a new building would be needed.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
While Goodhue County commissioners heard the most recent construction estimate for a new Health and Human Services building at their Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday, they were still unsure of whether a new building would be needed.
Their decision partly hinges on the county’s potential to take part in a regional redesign of human services with 11 other counties. A brand new HHS building may not be necessary if the county opts to join the new endeavor for delivery of half of the department’s services.
“We need to know where this redesign is going to go sooner rather than later,” Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel said.
Details of the redesign have been slowly changing, just as details of the new Health and Human Services building have been slowly changing.
Back in June 2011, commissioners decided to move forward with the option of designing a building that would have 33,000 square feet available for three floors and three connectors linking the new structure to the existing Government Center. The basement, which would be used for storage, would consist of another 11,000 square feet.
Plans changed over the next six months and by January 2012 the recommended footprint for the building was up to 35,303 square feet for three floors and only a one-level connector. Basement space remained the same, but would feature two meeting rooms, a mechanical room and storage.
Where the project sits now, the building would feature 44,000 square feet among three floors and the basement. It would be connected to the Government Center on the first floor only, adding another 1,800 square feet.
The estimated cost of the project in June 2011 was nearly $6.9 million, but the addition of square footage puts the price tag at around $7.5 million today.
“I always thought this building was going to climb,” Commissioner Ron Allen said, referring to the cost. “And I don’t think it’s done climbing yet.”
Allen also noted that the estimated figures don’t include any furniture or equipment that will be in the building, so more expenses should be added.
“I think it’s safe to say it’s an $8 million project,” he said.
Goodhue County administrative assistant Stacy Thuman explained that simply having a new building wouldn’t mean that all staff get new furniture.
The rising cost had commissioners concerned about how they’ll be able to fund a number of projects that are on their minds for the time being, including Highway 52 interchanges at County Road 9 and in Cannon Falls.
“We’ve got to start pulling some things off the table,” Rechtzigel suggested. “We’ve really got to start recognizing that dollars may be scarce.”