City employee Pat Bollmann has been manager for utilities and billing for the past nine years.
Before renovations to the Daniel Boone City Building took place between May and December of 2007, the utilities department and treasury management offices were located in the annex building on Eighth Street and Broadway.
Employees in the utilities department were more than ready for a change when they moved into the new space on the first floor of the Boone Building on Jan. 11.
“The old building has issues with heating and cooling,” Bollman said. “The cooling wouldn’t work in the summer and the heating wouldn’t work in the winter. But if you have ever been here, it is light, it is airy, and the walls are brand-new and clean.”
The renovations of the first floor lobby at the Boone Building are Phase 1 of a three-part renovation process. Phase 1 included painting, recarpeting, adding energy efficient windows to the original 1917 aesthetics and purchasing new furniture for the utilities department and treasury management offices. The office has been organized with payment desks, office space and desks for employees. Two doors were put in for customers to enter the utility payment offices. Additionally, a drive-through has been put in the back of the Boone Building for citizens to make their utility payments.
Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser echoed Bollman’s feelings about the old building at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
“My experience is that we have a very committed city staff who have worked in tough conditions,” she said.
But Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine emphasized that the changes weren’t just about improving employees’ conditions.
“There are improved conditions, but also employees’ operations are going to be more easily accessible by other departments,” Romaine said.
City Treasurer Bette Wordelmen said the new office gained some security enhancements, such as a more restricted cashiers’ area.
For residents who paid their utility bill Wednesday, the renovations were a nice change, but the customers were not without their own suggestions.
“It was all right,” Columbia resident Kenneth Machella said. “But I feel like there should be more parking.”
Jeremy Stone shared a similar sentiment and recommended a sign that says where to go for payments.
“I think it is better here,” Stone said. “It looks a lot newer and is easier to find.”
Bidding from construction companies to complete the renovation’s Phases 2 and 3 were approved at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Phase 2 involves demolishing the annex building where the utilities and treasury management offices were previously housed. A new five-story building will be built on the same grounds, with council chambers on the first floor.
Phase 3 includes renovations to the top four floors at the original Boone Building and moving all employees into appropriate office spaces.