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Wed, Feb. 26

Byers: Taxes won't be raised to pay for new county office facility

Taxes will not be raised to pay for the new $16 million county facility.

That is the promise made by Mohave County District 1 Supervisor Pete Byers Monday.

"We are not going to have to raise any taxes to do this project," Byers said.

"Property tax won't be raised in the distant future either, unless something really bad happens."

The new county facility includes 100,000 square feet for administration and 30,000 square feet for human services.

The building fund for the project was generated from a quarter cent sales tax the board of supervisors established on Aug.

23, 1999 to "pay costs associated with planning, acquisition, design, site improvements, construction and renovation of new major county capital facilities."

"We are the only county in Arizona with less than a half a cent sales tax," Byers said.

Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects, of Henderson, Nev., was hired about a month ago to design the new county facility.

The architects, who also designed the new Mohave County Sheriff's Office headquarters, met with a team of county officials Monday to discuss the hiring of a company to build the new county facility.

"The team is looking at several different companies to do this project," Byers said.

The "team" includes Mohave County Manger Ron Walker, Public Works Director Mike Hendrix, Assistant Public Works Director Nicholas Hont, Financial Director John Timko, Mohave County Attorney Bill Ekstrom but does not include Byers, District 2 Supervisor Tom Sockwell or District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson.

"I don't think supervisors should be on the team," Byers said.

However, Johnson does not agree.

"The supervisors were elected by the people of this county, and should be in on the planning of the new building," Johnson said.

"We don't know anything about the company they chose to oversee this project."

However, Johnson and the other two supervisors approved the selection of the Tempe firm Pinnacle One as owner's agent and manager for design and construction of the new county facility at the last supervisor's meeting.

Pinnacle One will oversee the building of the facility and then lease it back to the county.

Five buildings currently housing county employees, including the Johnson building, the Arnold Plaza, the Public Fiduciary building, the J.C.

Penney Building and the Mohave County Purchasing Department, will be affected when the new building is completed in about 22 months.

It is still uncertain what will be done with the Johnson Building, a county-owned facility, when the new building is completed, Byers said, although the pre-planning guide for the project recommends utilizing the building for storage and training.

The building currently houses employees from county government departments and divisions, including the board of supervisors, the county manager, the clerk of the board, human resources, and the finance department.

The value of the building was listed at $730,800, an amount that has not changed significantly, Byers said.

Arnold Plaza, which houses county employees from the assessor, recorder and treasurer's offices, is in the worst shape with a leaking roof, among other problems.

County manager Ron Walker said the county should not spend $250,000 on a new roof for the county-owned facility, especially when it has not been determined if the county will keep the building after employees move to the new building.

The value of Arnold Plaza was listed at $851,808.

However, District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson said the roof needs to be done because of the millions of dollars of equipment that are in the building.

The fate of another county-owed facility, The Public Fiduciary Building, will also be decided on in the near future.

One recommendation is that when employees move to the new county building the public fiduciary building, located near the fairground, can be utilized for fairgrounds operations, although Byers said thus far the matter has not been discussed.

The value of the structure, based on a $38 per square foot estimate is $106,856.

Leases for two county buildings - the J.C.

Penney building, leased for $46,267 a year; and the procurement building at 532 E.

Beale St., leased for $8,870.40 a year - will not be renewed once the new facility is ready for occupancy according to the recommendations.

The new county facility will be built adjacent to the new sheriff's office headquarters at 600 West Beale St.

Several older buildings that are located on the 70-acres owned by the county at that location will be demolished.

One building was once Liquinox Fertilizer and two other small buildings were part of a state highway yard, Byers said.

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