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Sat, Dec. 07

Supervisors vote to proceed with new county building

The Mohave County supervisors voted Tuesday to proceed with the design of a county government building.

First, the supervisors voted 3-0 to transfer $2.6 million from the general fund contingency back into a building fund that has been accumulating proceeds from a quarter-percent sales tax since Jan.

1, 2000.

Supervisors then voted 2-1 to approve a pre-design evaluation by county staff members and to solicit architects.

District 3 County Supervisor Buster Johnson, who wants the project built in Golden Valley, voted against the second measure, saying he wanted more "discussion."

Staff members have proposed a 100,000-square-foot building three to five stories high behind the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, which is being built in the 600 block of West Beale Street.

The county owns 70 acres at the location.

The estimated cost of $16 million would be paid by the building fund.

The estimated completion date is summer 2005.

The building would consolidate a variety of county offices and departments that are at six different locations in the Kingman area.

County Manager Ron Walker and District 1 Supervisor Pete Byers unveiled plans for the government building Feb.

6, saying the timing was right because of favorable interest rates and other economic factors.

They indicated the building – put on hold for two years while county officials proceeded with a new sheriff's headquarters - could be built at a fraction of the costs of other proposed locations.

During Tuesday's meeting, Byers motioned to transfer the $2.6 million back into the building fund.

In August 2001, over Johnson's objections, Byers and District 2 Supervisor Tom Sockwell voted to earmark the sales tax proceeds for general fund operations when they adopted the 2002-2003 budget.

While he voted with his peers Tuesday about the funds transfer, Johnson raised questions about the second motion to proceed with plans for the county government building.

Johnson asked who authorized the development of the pre-design plan and posted it on the county's Web site.

Walker said the plan fell under the goals and objectives adopted by the supervisors in January 2002.

"This is something I pushed for," Johnson said.

"Last time I brought it up (two years ago), we did not have the money."

Johnson said the county should follow a master plan to avoid a "hodgepodge of buildings."

Walker retorted, "I don't think what we are planning here is a hodgepodge." He said county officials are following recommendations from the Omni study on long-term facilities management, which cost more than $100,000.

Byers said, "I don't see any problem with where we are going."

Johnson wanted to discuss the matter further and voted against adjourning the meeting, which ended around 10 a.m.

Contacted after the meeting, Johnson acknowledged that he still favors locating the building at 200 acres in Golden Valley that Litchfield Park developer Fred Eldean has offered to donate for that purpose.

He said the board majority made a "total, complete change" in policy by proceeding with the downtown site.

When completed, the county building would house offices for the supervisors, county manager, clerk of the board, county assessor, county recorder, county treasurer, procurement, elections, finance, public fiduciary, human resources, risk management, information technology, communications, county school superintendent, and housing and community development.

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