County weighing facility consolidation
The initial report on Hamilton County's facilities needs is in and it paints a picture of aging buildings and deferred maintenance. With some offices bursting at the seams and others only half full, the county is looking at ways to consolidate operations.
One possibility is converting the former Mercy Mt. Airy hospital to hold the coroner, board of elections and some sheriff's offices.
Commissioners Greg Hartmann and Todd Portune says while this may seem like a good deal, the county needs to keep an eye on costs.
"If we can get rid of the Board of Elections lease... and put them in this new facility that would contain a new crime lab... that's a challenge to sequence with all our other facilities needs," says Hartmann.
Portune asks, "The bottom line is, the space is more than adequate to deal with a lot of our facilities needs to consolidate operations there but it comes right down to how do you pay for it?"
Commissioners have until the end of January to accept or decline the Mt. Airy facility.
More recommendations on other county facilities are expected in mid 2014.
The county also needs to find a new home for the Public Defender's office.
Most county-owned buildings are nearly 100 years old and major budget cuts mean most have extensive deferred maintenance issues.
See the county's initial facility findings here: