Improvements will soon be coming to Pulaski County’s government offices. During Monday’s county council meeting, Maintenance Supervisor Jeff Johnston announced a plan to improve accessibility, security, efficiency, and usability. “The plan itself is only in the infant stages of development, and there’s a lot of work to do before the completed plan can be presented in its entirety,” he said. “Once the initial drawings are completed, conversations will be held with all affected department heads and elected officials. Everyone will be able to have input and their individual office needs heard and, hopefully, met.”
Among other things, Johnston said the plan will let the county achieve full ADA compliance at a fraction of the cost that had previously been anticipated, within three years of the start of the project. He said the plan also will also make it easier for different offices to work together, while meeting each office’s needs when it comes to environmental control, security, power and office layout.
Meanwhile, Johnston said all of the recommendations from the county’s security committee will be implemented. “All of the security measures, as far as the building’s concerned – single point of of entry, camera systems, panic alarms, the three separate paths of foot traffic – all of that stuff will be covered under the commissioners’ project,” he said, “as well as secure offices with bullet-resistant vestibules and a controlled single point of entry.”
He said the changes will also save the county money. “Utility costs will be lowered 50 to 75 percent,” Johnston said. “Preventative maintenance costs will also be dramatically lowered. During one summer month, the courthouse costs over $4,000 to operate in utility bills. That’s just one month.”
Other changes would open the door to new revenue sources, according to Johnston, bringing in an estimated $300,000 to $1 million a year. But he said he wasn’t ready to explain exactly how that would work.
Johnston said his presentation was just an outline, and more details will be presented in December, once firmer cost estimates are available. “The reason for this is to give everybody an idea of the things that the commissioners are trying to fix. That way, when somebody comes up and says, ‘We demand that something be done about security in the courthouse,’ well, that’s being covered. ‘We demand that this happens,’ it’s being covered. So it’s being worked on. ADA requirements are being worked on. It’s just a matter of time now. I just need a couple months working with an architect to get the stuff together for them, so that you guys can all have this information.”
Johnston told the county commissioners last week that he’d contacted six architectural firms about creating the plans, but only one turned in a proposal by the deadline. He explained that design work typically costs about $10,000, but the proposal the county received was for $27,000. However, he said the plans actually encompass four separate projects, and that price was low when compared to the expected overall cost. The commissioners agreed to move forward with the firm and ask them to send a contract for the county’s approval.