FARMINGTON — Commissioners voted Tuesday to continue to get more detailed cost figures for two options to alleviate space concerns for county government offices. It is contingent on this stage not costing the county any more money. Commissioners also want the Budget Committee to be more involved.

Franklin County commissioners have been working with architects, a consultant and a county Facility Committee to try to find ways to alleviate space, safety and health concerns relating to the courthouse.

Voters in the county overwhelmingly rejected in November borrowing $4.46 million to pursue options that would have had Registry of Deeds and Probate, Emergency Management Agency and county administration move across the street to Church Street Commons. That move would have allowed the District Attorney’s Office to move up to the main floor of the courthouse from the ground-level. Air quality and dampness are among the issues with those DA’s Office.

The two-phase project would have also included building an addition on to the Sheriff Department office to increase space and security for communication operations. Commissioners have been exploring different options that cost less.

Commissioners unanimously agreed Feb. 1 to hire Smith Reuter Lull Architects to work on a proposed plan to move four county offices to the Franklin Fairview Building, a former shoe shop on High Street, that is owned by Randy Cousineau.

Commissioners agreed to spend up to $3,000 on the plan and Cousineau previously agreed to pay half of that.

The county is looking at roughly about 10,000 square feet in the Fairview Building but there are opportunities to make it less footage, architect Stephanie Lull said.

Assistant District Attorney James Andrews presented commissioners with some space options for the DA’s Office to move out of the courthouse.

The preliminary rental costs ranged from $14,500 a year to $25,200. Andrews said he would bring back some more defined numbers after finding out electricity, maintenance and other costs.

Cousineau said he would need to know what the county wants for lighting, floor and wall coverings, acoustic buffers, trim, length of lease and other factors before he could give a detailed cost.

He gave an example of a 10-year lease with the cost per square foot about $15, but that was just a guess, he said.

If there were a longer lease, consultant John Cleveland said, then the cost per square foot could be lower.

Cousineau said $800,000 has been budgeted for renovations.

“We’ll be happy to spend the extra time to get right down to the penny,” he said.

County Clerk Julie Magoon suggested that both options, the lease cost for DA’s Office and  moving county offices to Franklin Fairview Building, be submitted to the Budget Committee.

Commissioner Gary McGrane said the best option is to move the DA’s office into rental space to get them out of the basement. He said he heard the voters loud and clear when they defeated the building bond in November.

However, Commissioner Clyde Barker of Strong said that does not fix the rest of the problems. Those include the need for more space and storage, and fixing public building safety violations.

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