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County committee receives estimates for Hudson addition

A three-level addition to St. Croix County's Government Center to provide space for the Health and Human Services Department, courts and storage would cost between $9.2 million and $11.3 million, according to a consultant.

During a Finance Committee meeting last Thursday, Bob Brown of Ayres Associates presented preliminary drawings and estimates for a building that would have 31,607 square feet at basement level and the same amount on each the first and second floor. The addition -- which plans show at the north end of the existing building -- would provide 55,452 square feet for Health and Human Services and 7,762 square feet for courts.

Ayres had been asked to prepare preliminary estimates for an addition to the Government Center and for a new stand-alone building for Health and Human Services -- but no plans for a freestanding building were presented last week. Brown was directed to compile those estimates for presentation to the Health and Human Services Committee later this month.

"Maybe I've been sleeping, but I've never heard anything said that we're moving Health and Human Services down here (to Hudson)," protested Supervisor Esther Wentz, who serves on the Finance Committee and chairs the Health and Human Services Committee.

County Board Chairman Buck Malick agreed that the board has yet to consider the major decision: "Are we going to leave New Richmond and move that function to Hudson?"

The thought behind getting the cost projections was to help make choices about spending money on buildings in New Richmond, said Administrative Coordinator Chuck Whiting.

Malick suggested the next step should be to form a committee that would consider the needs of the departments, going to the County Board for step-by-step approval as it moves ahead.

Whiting asked if the plans address opportunities for energy saving components.

"Just by moving (HHS workers) down from New Richmond would save more than you can imagine," responded Supervisor Tom Caflisch, River Falls.

Finance Committee members also asked to see plans for an option that uses the existing secure elevator to move prisoners from the jail to a new courtroom, for an option that places one or more courtrooms on the first floor of the Government Center and for an unheated area to store evidence for the Sheriff's Department and the emergency communications van.