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Six county departments on the move

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Plan calls for economic development to relocate to administration building

By Chris Sardelli

Lancaster County officials provided more details last week for a plan to relocate the offices of at least six county departments. 

During Lancaster County Council’s March 1 meeting, county staff narrowed down plans for moving around several departments and groups, including the assessor’s office, finance department and the Lancaster County Economic Development Corp. (LCEDC). 

The discussion began last month as council discussed what to do with the LCEDC, whose building on West Gay Street is prone to mold and water leaks. 

County Administrator Steve Willis presented an idea to move the county’s delinquent tax office to the basement of the County Administration Building and then move the LCEDC into the former tax office space. 

The delinquent tax office is on the first floor of the county building across from the treasurer’s office. 

“Unless we put Economic Development in the basement, somebody’s got to move,” Willis told council. 

But to relocate the LCEDC, Willis described a “domino effect” of office moves that must take place first. The first move would be for Probate Court to relocate to the new county courthouse, followed by the finance department moving into that space.

Then the assessor’s office and risk management would move into the finance department’s old space, Willis told council. 

“Appraisers and clerical staff are packed amongst the files in the current office space,” Willis said in a memo to council. “We anticipate bringing the clerical staff out of the files and into the central area to allow for easier customer service and allowing the appraisers, who often have to review their work with property owners, to use the office space in finance to allow for private discussions.”  

Willis said an office near the second floor lobby would be converted into office space for risk management, allowing the risk manager to move out of human resources. 

Meanwhile, Willis said the majority of work would take place in the building’s basement storage area, which needs major renovations, including extending duct work and upgrading floors, walls and lighting. Once that work is completed, the delinquent tax office would relocate to the basement. Willis said county staff are also considering moving procurement into the basement area as well. 

“Until we select a contractor, it will be hard to say exactly how long this process will take, but certainly it will exceed a few weeks,” Willis said. 

As soon as the tax office moves, renovations can begin on the former delinquent tax office, including the addition of a reception area for LCEDC. 

“As you can see, this is somewhat of a domino effect on the work,” Willis said. “I simply cannot predict a timetable at this point but would expect all work to be completed and moves made by early fall at the latest.”

Before moving forward with the plan, LCEDC President Keith Tunnell asked to see the proposed space. Willis and council Chairwoman Kathy Sistare agreed on letting Tunnell tour the office.

 “I think this should be plenty of room for Mr. Tunnell,” Sistare said.