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4/19/2013 6:01:00 AM
Shiny & New
Mohave County's building upgrade comes with critics
JC AMBERLYN/MinerThe new Mohave County Public Works Building, top, was designed to be more efficient and user-friendly than the building it replaced.

The new Mohave County Public Works Building, top, was designed to be more efficient and user-friendly than the building it replaced.
Bottom: Steve Latoski surveys unfinished signs in one of the workshops.
Bottom: Steve Latoski surveys unfinished signs in one of the workshops.

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Mohave County Public Works employees are still unpacking and getting used to a new building that caused controversy before construction even started.

The Board of Supervisors approved the new $6 million building in 2011, and some criticized the decision to divert $3.5 million from the Highway User Revenue Fund to help pay for the building after the county placed a moratorium on taking new roads into the county's system in 2010.

Many residents objected to using HURF funds, which are supposed to be used to maintain local roads. County officials pointed to a 2005 opinion by Arizona's attorney general stating that funds can be used to build offices to house county public works or road departments.

The county also used $1.5 million from the landfill fund, $500,000 from the County Facilities Department, $300,000 from the Golden Valley and I-40 improvement districts, and $200,000 from the parks department.

The original plan called for a "paint and polish" of the old Hardy buildings, which were built in the 1970s and once owned by E.W. Hardy Turquoise. The county bought them in the 1980s.

That plan would've cost $400,000 to $500,000 and would have extended the useful life of the building 10 years. However, the public works department estimated the cost of maintaining the buildings for 50 years - the expected lifespan of the new building - would be $5.5 million, and the existing space wasn't considered adequate.

Construction on the building started in 2012. Staff started moving into the building, located on Sunshine Drive, last month. Public Works Director Steve Latoski acknowledged this week that many of the desks in the new building are unfilled. Some of those desks are unfilled because of the county's hiring freeze, which has been in effect since 2007, and others are waiting for future employees who will be hired as the county grows.

The building's design is based on the County's Development Services Building, which was built in 2010, with few unique twists to accommodate the needs of public works employees, said Latoski.

"Every division was involved with the architect," he said.

The main problem with the old buildings was space - staff simply outgrew the buildings during the building boom, Latoski said. As the different public works divisions grew, they found themselves jumbled on top of each other without a place for staff to meet with the public.

Offices and workshops for signs and testing labs were also located in different buildings. Some records were also kept in off-site storage areas, technical manuals were scattered through out offices and the building couldn't really handle the new technology the departments needed to grow.

The new building addresses those problems, Latoski said.

The new 38,000-square-foot building is approximately 12,000 square feet larger than the Hardy buildings, he said. This allowed the county to consolidate most of the public works division into one building, except for the equipment and maintenance divisions, which are still in their old buildings across the street.

Each division provided their own input on what they wanted to see in the office space, he said. For example, the Road Division didn't want or need a big office.

"These guys aren't here during the day," Latoski said. "A few workstations where they can complete paperwork are all they wanted."

The first floor has combined office and workshop space for divisions such as traffic control, which designs and prints street signs. There's also a woodworking shop, paint shop, welding shop, soils lab and a central warehouse on the ground floor.

Combining the spaces made sense since most of the employees in those divisions spend most of their time working in the shop or out on the road, Latoski said.

Most of the offices and the workshops on the ground floor also have doors with access to an outside, locked yard that contains various county vehicles. Employees also have access to a library for technical manuals and showers and a locker room to store personal items and clean up. A second technical library and a records library are located on the second floor with the Engineering and Parks departments.

"We wanted to create an office space that is comfortable for staff to work in and is driven by the employee," Latoski said.

The county also housed most of the divisions that the public frequently interacts with the public on the first floor, such as the Golden Valley Improvement District, which operates a water system that is used by a large number of the valley's residents.

The design scatters conference rooms throughout the building so that staff have a place to meet with the public or each other. All of the conference rooms are also wired for Internet and telephone access and many have TV monitors and white boards for training purposes.

There's even a nook with a table and chairs near the counters on the first floor where the public can sit and fill out paperwork.

Technology was also a major factor in the design of the building, Latoski said. Wi-fi Internet access is available to staff and the public through out the building. Every location where a division thought they might need a computer or a terminal is wired for phone and Internet.

The building's heating, cooling and lighting systems are state of the art. Nearly all of the overhead lights in the building are light emitting diodes, which use less energy and can last for years without having to be replaced, Latoski said. The lights can also be programmed to dim at certain times.

The county also installed solar tubes, which channel sunlight into rooms, on the second floor to provide additional light.

While the county expects utility costs will drop, no estimates of savings was available.

Mission Bank

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Article comment by: dv s

They used Road Monies...why we have pot holes and bad roads........

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

@vock canyon
Check out the new article on the church addition....$464,000t for a 1700 sq ft addition. Thats about $273/sq ft.

Guess the county got a good deal?

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: Quit Trying To Show Off

@ Just Curious & Shantytown - Ditto of Somewhere in Arizona - Maybe "ghetto" slum-living is all that resident can hang onto within their financial means. I guess you'd rather kick them into the street or make them some other town's problem if they can't help pay for a new monument to a governmental whim, because you don't have a heart it's all about YOU! It's great to be able to LOOK good, but many people here are doing all they can to hang onto what little they got. Putting a person's looks, i.e., a town's looks, before a person's character, i.e., it's resident's real needs, is simply vain. To give you a more personal analogy, I wouldn't buy a newer model car if I can't pay my mortgage or rent. Even if my current car stopped running, I would walk to work, or find another way to get to work, i.e., do without or patch it up, until I could afford to fix it. Many people here are just that close to not being able to pay their monthly mortgage or rent. Why can't some of you aesthetic people get that?

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Article comment by: someone in arizona

@shanty town and just curious.

So which department or board do you work for within the county? You are right there are some slums. A good portion of them are in your area. What have you done to help better the community. People do not move here to live in run down parts of town on rough roads with shinny new county buildings. You must be in PZ or Development services. People are taxed and money is taken from their income which could be used to better their situation. And while there are many people who would like a job better than working at Mcdonalds or one of the many other low paying job the City and County have done nothing but prevent it through there huge development fees and bureaucratic BS!

Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013
Article comment by: Shanty Town

I don't think Kingman needs any new buildings. I think Kingman should just reuse shantys and carboard boxes. Since the town doesn't attract high quality people anyway -- why not continue on with the usual stuff and attract rats and cockroaches?

Seriously. That "slum living" has been the mindset of this town for the past 20 years. It's a downhill run in Kingman ---- and it only gets worse ---- there's relatively few who want to see it get better. Or even knows what that means.

Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013
Article comment by: Nuff Said

Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

I own a 8 acre piece of land in Golden Valley that I wanted to develop into a dream home at some point in the future in the same water district that Judy does. We were told that it would cost 4400 to bring us all water but as soon as we got the 51percent needed to pass the price jumped to 14,000 per property. Many of us decided that was far to much to pay for a service we were told would be much cheaper. Many of the people are on fixed income and just couldn't afford this. At the same time our taxes had climbed 10 fold due to the building boom which was based on fraud and lies from the banks. So it is now costing me 6 times what I paid in taxes this after the biggest boom and bust in history. Taxes went up in a short time but they still have not come anywhere close to where we where before this fraud committed on our tax payers. These people all run as Republicans and claim to be fiscally responsible. Yeah right

Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013
Article comment by: Roy Leggett

Me thinks it's time to impeach the whole lot. Our roads are the worse I have ever seen anywhere in the US. Supervisors set in Trump Towers and to hell with what the people want. It's time we make them realize they work for us. Attend the next meeting and voice your opinion. Do not set on your couch and act like a bunch of sheep and expect someone else to do things for you. That is the problem with this country. Politicians get people to argueing about who is best, Democrat or Republican, start calling names and then we forget who has caused our problems, POLITICIANS. Let's take back our country and let's do it together.

Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013
Article comment by: Just Curious

Especially at dl and the others-
I drove by to see what all the fuss was about. First of all the old building is in deplorable condition. Not from lack of maintenance but there appears to be structural issues as well. I am we'll informed that there is asbestos in the old building as well. I seriously doubt that, given my observations, that 500,000 retrofit was an even close guess. Second, please learn to do present worth calculations before you perform ridiculous cost conclusions. If your account did what you did you your investments would be gone. Thirdly, what the County puts into its facilities sets a pattern for the community and how it is looked at by investors. I gather that you prefer the image of a ghetto...but them maybe that's the sum total of your aspirations. Have a nice day.

Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013
Article comment by: Quit Trying To Show Off

Not ONLY what DL says, but also in 50 years, think of the many new inventions and discoveries that will come into the marketplace in a relatively short time. You can bet they will want the best of the new "toys", and will want us to pay for another new building in barely another 10 years or so to accommodate improvements. It's pretty easy to say "we've grown out of ...", when you can manipulate what the public sees.

Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013
Article comment by: Patriot WES

This is a good news, bad news situation. The good news is county manager Ron Walker is the one that pushed this and he is gone, the bad news is two of the BOS that voted for this are still on the BOS. Things like this happen when idiots get elected. Elections have consequences.

Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013
Article comment by: Jim Consolato

I would have to say that money would have been better spent in other ways,a potion of which used to give the County Employees a well deserved and over due pay raise. Raiding all the other funds, especially the HURF funds was indeed outrageous considering the road conditions in Mohave County. Enough said except that I do believe with the new BOS, three new supervisors, making sweeping changes for the better, we should be seeing the end of high cost new county buildings for some time .

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: vock canyon

Got to thinking, something didn't sound right.

6 million divided by 38,000 is equal to $158. per sq foot. WHAT????? Are these facts correct?Construction here only costs $80 per sq foot. So, what happened to the other $77 per sq foot?

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: Common Sense

We need to remember these County priorities at the next election!

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: Sunshine Johnson

I'll bet there will be a nice smooth road in front of those 2 "Trump Towers" also...while the rest of us keep bumping along over the tar cracks in the rest of the town!! Where are the people that WE voted in to work for US not themselves??

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: Better Management Needed

Quote: "The new 38,000-square-foot building is approximately 12,000 square feet larger than the Hardy buildings, he said."

I am not an engineer like these guys are, but lets see if I can figure this out. The Hardy Buildings must have been about 26,000 feet, right? Since P&Z moved out, half of the building was empty, right? That would mean there was somewhere around 13,000 square feet of vacant space, not being used, right?

Oh I forgot, the new building is maintenance free. You gotta love their logic. Maybe we should promote the Deputy County Manager who came up with the idea. Oh that’s right, we did.

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

@ d l

Although the story wasn't clear..... I believe your numbers are off.

The County bought the buildings in 1980. Lets call it 30 yrs ago? That means it might have 20 more years of useful life...maybe (but doubtful). At least that's the way I read it....not that they meant ANOTHER 50 years. Though that's possible as well, it would mean the building itself would be almost 90 yrs old.

So they would have to spend $500K now on major repairs and upgrades and to make it last a total of 50 years (since they acquired it) they would have to spend another $5.5 mil. Or they could build a new building with better facilities, better work spaces, and lower maintenance and energy costs for the same amount of money.

Do I agree with HOW they got the money...absolutely not! But having worked in more than a few 50 y/o buildings...rarely do they meet the standards of more modern structures, no matter how much they are upgraded and they are always maintenance nightmares.

Just think of a house built 50 yrs ago. It probably would have a 60-100A electrical service. Possible aluminum wiring as well. 150-200A is pretty much standard now. It would definitely have poor insulation unless it had been upgraded. It's plumbing would likely be inadequate and about due for replacement. Possible structural issues as well.

Again...the fund usage was WRONG..IMO, but I can understand the need for a new building.

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: Stupid Does As Stupid Gets

Yep.Funds for >>>ROADS<<< used for a stupid building. You all voted these idiots in so this is what we get.To hell with much needed REPAIRED,NOT,PATCHED, roads.

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: d l

"That plan would've cost $400,000 to $500,000 and would have extended the useful life of the building 10 years. However, the public works department estimated the cost of maintaining the buildings for 50 years, the expected lifespan of the new building..."

So, hmmm, let's see...$500,000 per 10 years multiplied by 5 for a total of 50 years and we're talking $2.5 million, almost 1/3 of what they paid for this new building! You could've maintained the old buildings for well over 100 years for what was paid for this new building! And then it would've been on an as-needed basis (every 10 years), when the county wasn't already crying "poor!"
You all have some nerve...I wish you actually had to answer to somebody for this but sadly, this will likely blow over like everything else.

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: someone in arizona

You can try to sugar coat this as much as you would like.We can see right through your BS.You try to justify misappropriation of funds but we will still have to maintain these other buildings you moved out of. They are still here and require maintenance and power.All the while our roads are not being maintained and services are poor in a lot of your departments.This does not take into account the new 140m's, vehicles and other big items. I guess when I have been taxed out of my home I can come stay in one of the empty rooms in the new buildings.

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: vock canyon

Let's have the former county manager help replace some of the funds that were removed from the road funds and landfill fund. Hmmm.... I won't hold my breath.

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: Judy Fien

Please explain this to me,a few years ago,I was made to pay $788.00 for the study that was done to bring water down my street,that was stopped because the cost to us homeowners was $14,000.00,per parcel,either pay up front or have it on your property tax with interest,as you all know money it tight for us little guys,So we still had topay for the study,and got nothing!!
Now this is where my beef comes in ,with the county building,money taken from the Golden Valley Improvement District,Hey I guess I payed for a couple of window panes in that building,I think this money could of been better spent,Look at the humane society building,1 million would of made a quite a difference!!!!!

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