It’s been about a year since the first Hall County government offices relocated to its new headquarters on Browns Bridge Road and the move seems to have been worthwhile.
“I have been extremely pleased with the county’s move to the new Hall County Government Center,” County Administrator Randy Knighton said. “Residents are now able to vote, pay for their car tag, get a business license and much more without driving to a separate building.”
The 118,767-square-foot government center at 2875 Browns Bridge Road stands five stories tall and sits on 33 acres of land. It was originally constructed in 1982 and housed Liberty Mutual. Hall County purchased the building in 2010 for $6.1 million from special purpose local option sales tax funds. Another $2.9 million was spent on renovation.
The building houses many of the county’s key operations including the tax commissioner, business license, environmental health, public works and marshal’s office. This concentration of offices has created a one-stop shop for Hall County residents.
It also holds the Board of Commissioners meeting room, which seats 332 people and serves as a gathering space for the community for government-related purposes.
Most of the county’s operations and departments were relocated to the facility last summer and fall. Beforehand, most departments were located in various buildings across Gainesville, which caused delays and inefficiencies as officials sometimes had to travel long distances to meet with other departments.
“Before, the county functions were scattered everywhere,” said Ken Rearden, director of public works and utilities. “The only ones who were with us were the tax commissioner and tax assessor’s offices, which we have very little interaction with.
“With all of us under one roof now, it’s just so much easier to function day to day.”
The move has saved the county money by relocating offices that were once housed in leased space, and has reduced operational costs overall, Knighton said.
Most of the buildings that formerly housed government departments were leased but several were owned by the county. The Joint Administration Building, located between the Hall County courthouse and the courthouse annex, housed the tax commissioner’s office, tax assessor’s office, public works and engineering. After the move, Hall County gave its share of the building to Gainesville in return for a larger portion of the Prior Street building, which is being considered as a possible site to relocate some of the public health department’s offices.
Also, the courthouse annex eventually will be used to support courthouse functions and operations, Knighton said.
Aside from a possible walking trail, there are no other firm future plans for the facility, according to county Public Information Officer Katie Crumley. However, Knighton said the “facility leaves the county with plenty of room for continued and projected growth.”