The relocation of the Pulaski County Assessor’s Office is getting nowhere fast, as the county commissioners this week told Assessor Holly VanDerAa that they don’t feel comfortable with allowing a basement wall to be knocked out to allow her to expand her office. In light of the can of worms that the courthouse bell tower repair project opened up, Commissioner Ken Boswell said that the commissioners want to have an engineer or architect take a look at the wall that would be removed to ensure that it would not compromise the integrity of the historic courthouse.
VanDerAa said Jay Sullivan had checked out the basement and indicated that it is feasible to make the rooms larger, and he estimated the project would cost less than $20,000, which Maintenance Director Morry DeMarco said he has available in his budget.
However, Boswell said that after what the commissioners have gone through with the bell tower maintenance, he would like an engineering firm to take a look at it to double-check for any downsides to making this change. VanDerAa mentioned that they can still look into finding a building elsewhere, but said that would be more costly and less convenient for taxpayers, but the bottom line is her office needs more space.
“The space issue is a problem; with as many employees as I have, we’re very crowded, and we’re already outgrowing our office by going into the hallway with different filing cabinets out there. My concern is the number of people in that small office. Also, as far as moving out of that office, I have no problem with that; I have no problem staying in the office. Neither bother me, we just need more room – whatever direction that takes us,” said VanDerAa.
VanDerAa said she has been trying to move into a larger office or expand her current office since spring, but she’s staying patient through the lengthy process as the commissioners ensure the integrity of the building.
“I understand the responsibility ends up on their shoulders, so I have been patient and I will need to continue to be patient, which isn’t an issue, but hopefully we can move forward sooner than later,” VanDerAa said.
The commissioners will look into the possibility of having an engineering firm take a look at the proposed work, and VanDerAa said she will attend the next meeting to check on their progress.