Pella Chronicle

March 31, 2014

Committee formed to evaluate County space

By Steve Woodhouse
The Chronicle

Knoxville — Marion County is preparing to evaluate its current use of space and considering what needs may exist in the future. A committee, which will likely include any and all County department heads interested in serving, will start the process by looking at current space utilized and number of employees per department. 

"We're not moving anybody today," Supervisor Mark Raymie said as discussion, regarding space plans, opened at a special Board of Supervisors' meeting Monday afternoon. 

There are many reasons the County is trying to re-evaluate its space needs for the future. Among them is the recent addition of an information technology director. Andrew DeHaan of Pella began working in this position in early March. DeHaan not only needs space for his own office, but the County is mindful of the need for climate-controlled space for its computer servers. 

Discussion of the creation of the information technology position began shortly after the County received a report, evaluating the status of its computer systems and storage, that specified some flaws in the way it is set up. DeHaan, in his new role, will work to make improvements. 

Over the past several years, the County has added other positions. The County also expanded the Public Health Department into a new building, leaving the former home of Public Health empty. 

The Iowa Department of Human Services has also requested improvements to the accommodations provided by the County for its remaining operations. DHS rents space from the County at 3014 East Main. The DHS contract with the County expires June 1.

Months ago, concerns were raised by DHS about certain conditions of the building. DHS, at that time, requested that the changes be made or it would consider moving its offices. County Maintenance Director Cal Stephens has received an estimate for these upgrades to the building, which would cost over $20,000. 

Before much more can be done to try to better organize and distribute County offices among the available buildings, department heads believe a decision regarding the future home of DHS in Marion County must be made. No one knows the amount of available space, or where it will be, until a new lease, if any, is signed with DHS. 

After a great deal of discussion among the supervisors and department heads, Marion County Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Anderson offered to lead the committee to study available space and potential needs. The committee will likely include department heads from throughout the courthouse.

The first step is to create a list of square footage each department has now, as well as a number of employees, and provide it to the supervisors at the board's April 8 meeting. Supervisor Jim Kingery also intends to contact the Department of Administrative Services, regarding the future home of DHS in Marion County, prior to that meeting.