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Hall tax offices to move to Liberty Mutual
Board votes 3-1 to go from downtown office to new location
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Hall County tax offices are headed to the county-owned Liberty Mutual Building on Browns Bridge Road, after all.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted 3-1 Thursday night to move the tax assessor's and tax commissioner's offices from downtown Gainesville when the county moves to the Liberty Mutual Building next year.

The decision reversed a Feb. 24 vote to keep those offices in the Joint Administration Building off the downtown square. The commissioner changing his mind on the matter was Scott Gibbs, who also made the motion to move the offices to Liberty Mutual.

"The reason I am doing that is that since that vote, I have had further conversations with the city, and they show a very, very positive interest in taking the rest of the (Joint Administration) Building from us," Gibbs said.

At the Feb. 24 meeting, commissioners discussed the merits of leaving several departments in the Joint Administration Building, which the county co-owns with the city of Gainesville, when the county relocates to Liberty Mutual.

Public Works Director Ken Rearden said the county pays $4,250 a month for utilities in the building, rounding out to $51,000 per year. The total yearly operational cost for the building is $97,800.

Commissioner Ashley Bell, who wasn't at Thursday night's meeting, expressed an interest in leaving the offices downtown for the benefit of businesses there. He sought to move just the administration offices to Liberty Mutual.

"If we're going to have an empty building somewhere, it shouldn't be in downtown Gainesville," Bell said.
After Thursday's meeting, Gibbs said, "I do think it will be a lot more efficient having (all the county offices) under one roof and plus the tax commissioner's office is there to work with our finance department, and the administrators are going to be at Liberty.

"It's just going to be a lot more streamlined process."

Commissioner Craig Lutz was the lone dissenting vote Thursday night.

Gibbs' motion "essentially was the same thing I did the week before that the chairman didn't recognize, so I felt like (Thursday night's) vote was out of order and shouldn't have been done," Lutz said. "And so, really, my vote was more about a procedural issue."

He said, however, that he "can't say I'm really for (the move)."

"I'm still kind of on the fence about it," Lutz said. "I would have liked more opportunity to think about it.

(Gibbs) said something that the city would like to buy that (vacated space). I would like to see something a little more firm before we spend the money to move everybody over.

"The fact is we have to pay the utilities on that building, whether anybody is sitting there or not."