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EDITORIAL: County office search may have better solutions

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opinion New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond News
715-246-7117 customer support
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

After proposals were sought from the private sector, St. Croix County is no closer to finding a home for soon-to-be-displaced employees at the Health and Human Services building in New Richmond.

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Because only one lease offer was received, for the old County Market building in New Richmond, County Administrator Patrick Thompson is rethinking the whole thing. The only available lease option is pretty expensive, he told the county board, and building a new office facility might be a better option.

Nobody wants the county to spend more tax money than they need to as they solve the office space challenges. The Health and Human Services building needs to come down, Thompson now says, but maybe the deconstruction can be delayed for another year while other alternatives are studied.

City of New Richmond officials have said from the start that the plans to demolish the existing county building, the office space search and the call for proposals was too rushed. Turns out they were right.

But before the county dives head first into a building project, perhaps the County Market building deserves more consideration. But not as a leased facility, but as a county-owned building.

Yes, the interior renovations might be pricey, but the overall cost of owning and upgrading the facility might be the best option out there. Besides, the building already has a huge parking lot, and the square footage inside the structure is plenty to meet the needs of county services for a long time.

It's OK to take a step back now and re-evaluate the direction the county is headed. But county officials probably need to give the process some time and consider numerous outside-the-box alternatives that could save the taxpayers huge money for years to come.

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