Portage County Staffing: Facility needs are real and expensive

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Portage County Staffing: Facility needs are real and expensive

The consultant will help facilitate the discussions



STEVENS POINT – Portage County officials are being asked – one way or another – to deal with growing needs for space and facilities. That’s what the members of the County Committee on Space and Properties heard on July 25.

Director of Facilities Todd Neuenfeld presented a report on various phases of remodeling and specific items that were discussed.

Single point access at the county/city building has gotten the most attention in recent weeks. Neuenfeldt set that price at $1 million.

As for the complete remodeling of the courthouse, Neuenfeld gave an estimate of $35 million “to redesign the courthouse to make it the most modern courthouse that we can.”

Neuenfeldt added: “Pretty much everything is up for grabs right now. Nothing is guaranteed to be in place after that,” he told members of the space and estates committee. “But we’re definitely going to take the hull of the court and rearrange things inside to make it the most modern court we can make, improving security and efficiency.”

This work will include new HVAC systems, updated elevators, new fire sprinkler systems and windows, new IT cabling throughout the building and construction costs.

“I don’t see us investing $35 million in a building when we don’t know what the next county council is going to vote on or whatever, whether the courthouse is going to stay downtown or the jail is going to stay downtown or (move) to green space.” , said committee member Mike Splinter.

“The $35 million is reserved,” Neuenfeld explained. “In reality, it could come at 28. It could come at 45. We don’t know. What I’m trying to identify here is that this is a significant amount of money. This is a significant investment,” he added. “We know this will never be a modern courthouse. We know that this will never solve the problem of everyone and everything. But we know we can make it better.

Neuenfeldt also reported numerous needs at the county annex, including replacing an aging chiller (1998) that he said was past its useful life, and current lead times for new ones are roughly one year. There is also a need to replace the roof, resurface the parking lot and upgrade the elevator, including new controls (the existing repair parts are no longer available).

As for the Law Enforcement Center, Neuenfeldt listed the need for a new generator and a new chiller, both of which are past their lifespan.

As for the Ruth Gilfry building, which was the victim of recent flooding due to a water main break, Neuenfeldt said now is the time to look at remodeling the facility.

“We’re expecting some pretty significant reconstruction down there,” he said. “This is the time to … if we want to move an office, if we want to do some conference space, if we need to add restrooms, if we need to add fire sprinklers, which I’m told we’re not doing.

“I don’t have a forecast yet,” Neuenfeld continued. “We’re hoping to narrow down that amount by next week, but right now we’re still trying to determine the scope before we can give you an estimate.”

In all, CFO Jennifer Jossey said the cost of the new projects identified by Neuenfeldt totaled $39.5 million.

“Every year we plan … we try to get about a million dollars in tax levies in the budget,” Josi said. “But every time we start going over a million dollars, that’s when we start looking for loans.”

That discussion led to Jossey’s presentation on a proposal to hire consultant Chino Adelson of St. Paul-based Cinovations to provide consulting services related to master facility planning.

“The idea of ​​the proposal is to facilitate a conversation with the county council and stakeholders to determine whether or not there is a way forward in terms of the projects,” Jossey told members of the Space and Property Committee. “As a staff, we’ve talked about (how) we’ve spent money repeatedly on studies, repeatedly on concepts and, for whatever reason, we’ve kind of had this continued failure to move forward with a project. And we’re caught in this trap of wanting to talk about new facilities and new construction and new construction projects, and we’re not moving forward, so then we go back to talking about maintenance and repair of existing facilities, and then we discuss . well, we might build a building and we’re in this kind of circle.

In a memo to commission members sent before the meeting, Jossey stated, “The failed vote to fund the proposed courthouse and jail project essentially put the future of any permanent detention facility project on hold, but the county has not addressed or resolved the issues, who brought the project forward in the first place.”

Meanwhile, Jossey said indecision on the part of county board members means the county’s main facility project is not moving forward.

“So this proposal is to look at whether there is feedback from board members and stakeholders to identify a specific or project area that there is some agreement on so that staff can present a concept or plan that we feel there can be success moving forward that we can work on that,” Josi said. “We’re kind of stuck in terms of what the plan is to work on, what we’re proposing going forward. We are now talking about a prison/LEC (Law Enforcement Center) model. Personally, I’m a little bit hesitant to spend money on something that we might have to offer that might not make it to the next page or the next phase,” Josi added.

“Staff is eager to resolve the issues the county faces at our existing facilities, but needs a better understanding of the path to making the right proposal a reality,” Jossey’s memo read. “Staff is presenting the proposal for consultation with Cinovations as a means to help better understand the reasons why the previous proposal failed, while also determining if there are any scenario(s) that staff can work to develop for future consideration. “

The design proposal from Cinovations includes three distinct phases which include: Small group meetings of key stakeholders to advise the consultant in defining process, issues and protocol – it is proposed that the planning/design group be staff/professional experts or non- make decisions; Individual interviews with key stakeholders – to determine the status of where we start and the potential of each ability to achieve consensus among the group in an anonymous manner; Report findings to the Space and Property Committee and then report to the full County Board of Supervisors.

“The nature of this is an impartial third party,” Josi told the committee. “There is no accepted outcome in terms of a way forward.”

Josi also said in his memo that any information collected would not be identified by name of a specific executive. Any information shared will be made anonymous or aggregated in the report.

District 8 Supervisor Joan Honl supported the idea of ​​hiring an outside consultant.

“We’re as stuck as a board,” Honl told Space and Properties. “We have to find a way to peel back because I think it’s getting uncomfortable. And I think this kind of process can help us focus on what our values ​​are when it comes to our civic buildings. “Personally, I felt bad that I didn’t vote to fund the Law Enforcement Center when we voted (May 2) because I’m a big proponent of safety,” Honl added. “If we have an experienced guy who’s used to doing this, who can pull that out of us and bring us to some of those values. Maybe this will help us move forward because we are at a standstill. We have to do something or we’re going to be the board that lets everything collapse around us, and I don’t think there’s a person on this board that wants that.”

The amount of the proposed contract for Cinovations is $31,500, with a completion date of October 31.

The Space and Property Committee approved the resolution and sent it to the full county board for consideration.

Meanwhile, the next Space and Property Committee meeting is scheduled for September 5 at 3:30 p.m. in Annex Conference Room 1 and 2.

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