County Government Center to be renovated

Friday, October 30, 2009 | 1:32 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Plans to renovate what is now an unfinished third floor in the Roger B. Wilson Boone County Government Center are beginning to lift off. The Boone County Commission at a recent meeting added $1 million in sales tax proceeds to the Government Center Capital Project fund that will not only pay for that work but also pay for renovations to the first and second floors of the building.

Presiding Commissioner Ken Pearson said the renovation fund now has more than $4 million. Some of that money will pay for work at the Johnston Paint and Decorating building at 613 E. Ash St.

The third floor of the County Government Center, which was built about 15 years ago, is an unfinished shell of space. Pearson said the third floor was included in the original County Government Center to allow room for growth. Once completed, the county will shuffle offices, freeing up space in currently cramped departments and allowing for more strategic placement of related departments, bolstering communication, Pearson said.

It will be some time, though, before public servants can begin enjoying the new office space. Pearson said he expects construction documents by the end of March.

“The goal is to have them approved in April and out for bid,” he said, adding that it’s too early to establish a timeline for finishing the work.

With the additional space, offices will be relocated. The Boone County treasurer, for example, will move from the first floor of the County Government Center to the second, and the county counselor will move from the Johnson Building at 601 E. Walnut St. There will be more office shifts between the Johnson building, the Boone County Johnston Paint and Decorating building and the County Government Center.

Once completed, the new third floor will house the commissioners’ offices, the Planning and Building Department and the Design and Construction Division of the Public Works Department. It also will include meeting rooms and a mailroom.

Funding for the project comes from several sources, such as revenue from a one-fifth cent capital improvement sales tax. Voters approved the tax in April 2006; it expired Sept. 30. Before the vote, county officials estimated the tax would generate $14 million. County Auditor June Pitchford said the final number, after investment earnings, was $13.78 million.

About $9.4 million of that covered the cost of adding two floors to the Boone County Courthouse annex.

Pitchford said the county hasn’t had to cut corners on building work yet, but it probably will have to reassess. “We’re just going to have to reduce the scope of some of our projects.” Pitchford said.

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