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Citizens Building plan unveiled

A concept photo of the renovated Citizens Building shows a proposed 10,000-square-foot addition on the building’s north side. Engineering firm Short Elliott Hendrickson will prepare a schematic design for County Board review next month. (Photo illustration by Short Elliott Hendrickson)

Goodhue County commissioners discussed future plans at a workshop Monday evening, including a preliminary design for a $5.3 million overhaul to the Citizens Building and changes to the payroll system for county employees.

The building project still is in the conceptual stages, but the county will look to renovate the existing structure with updated heating and plumbing, a new elevator and handicap-accessible entrance.

“It’s basically going to be a whole new building inside,” County Board Chair Ron Allen said.

The plan also calls for a 10,000-square-foot addition attached to the building’s north face.

With the new wing and room cleared up in the basement by the recent privatization of mental health services, Allen said the updated Citizens Building will solve an office space shortage for county employees.

Construction is estimated at around $4.8 million, with an additional $500,000 for new furniture and moving costs to temporarily relocate county departments while the work is completed.

The Citizens Building currently houses Health and Human Services’ welfare, social services and child support departments, according to the county’s website.

Commissioners previously discussed selling or leasing the Citizens Building and constructing a new office for staff at the spot of the vacant Public Health Building, which is set for demolition later this year.

But renovating the Citizens Building will be about half the cost of a new structure, Allen said, adding that the aging building — part of Red Wing’s Historic Mall District — is in need of repair.

Engineering firm Short Elliott Hendrickson is preparing a schematic design for the project, a process that should take about four weeks, according to a preliminary timeline.

The design is expected to go before County Board for review next month.

“I think there’s a commitment to fix this building up, and it will be good for another 50 or 60 years,” Allen said.

The timeline presented by SEH calls for bids to go out on the project by mid-summer and construction to begin Aug. 1.

Payroll changes

Commissioners also continued the discussion on payroll options for county employees, agreeing to further research vendors for a new electronic timesheet system.

Staff presented a payroll study at a Committee of the Whole meeting Jan. 21, identifying two timesheet vendors — RTVision and ADP — as the top candidates.

The current timesheet system is labor intensive and prone to mistakes, according to the study.

Monday’s workshop also included a discussion on whether to shift county payroll from the Human Resources department to Finance and Taxpayer Services, but no decision was reached.

Around 68 percent of counties statewide use their finance department to process payroll, according to the study.

Commissioners directed the county’s Management Team to interview both timesheet vendors this month and report back to the board with a recommendation.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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