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Hall considers keeping some county offices downtown
Board agreed to vote on issue in 2 weeks
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Glades Reservoir consultant Tommy Craig told Hall County Board of Commissioners he and his colleagues are willing to lower their fees by $5,000 a month.
Following moves from the commission to put consulting services out for a competitive bid, Craig said he was willing to renegotiate monthly fees.
"We understand the economy that we're in, we understand these are hard times and we are prepared to do our share to make our share of concessions," Craig said.
Commissioner Ashley Bell said he would also like to look at savings in engineering services for the reservoir.
"Competition is going to help us save money," Bell said. "It's not just about cutting spending. It's about creating competition."

Melissa Weinmann

 

At its Thursday meeting, the Hall County Board of Commissioners contemplated keeping some of its departments in downtown Gainesville when it moves into the Liberty Mutual building later this year.

Public Works Director Ken Rearden updated the commission on the spacial planning for the county's new office building, which is located off of Browns Bridge Road.

Commissioner Ashley Bell asked the commission to consider leaving the Tax Assessor's and Tax Commissioner's offices - two departments with heavy foot traffic - in their current locations in downtown Gainesville.

"I feel like county government should be in the county seat, and Gainesville is our county seat," Bell said. "I think that being downtown is critical for the morale of the economy downtown, for our businesses, that Hall County is committed to seeing the businesses around here thrive."

Rearden said because those departments are frequently visited by the public, they have been planned for the first floor of the building.

Should the commission vote to leave them downtown, Liberty Mutual may continue to lease space on the first floor.

"This is an opportunity for us to get lease revenue and continue to leave county departments downtown," Bell said.

Chairman Tom Oliver said he would like to see a proposal from Liberty Mutual before voting to change the design of the building.

Interim County Administrator Jock Connell said an agreement with the company is not concrete.

"They did indicate they were looking at other options," he said.

The board agreed to vote on the matter at its next board meeting in two weeks.

Hall County purchased the Liberty Mutual building for $6.1 million in August with plans to move 15 county departments under one roof.

The building has about 97,000 square feet of office space.

According to plans laid out in SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) VI, $17 million was set aside for courthouse and administration costs, which will include renovating the 1936 courthouse and the courthouse annex for use by the Northeast Georgia Judicial Circuit.

The funding also goes toward finding a new home for the offices housed in the annex and the Joint Administration Building, many of which will be moving into Liberty Mutual.

 

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