County under contract on $1.6M human services facility
Grand County Commissioners are moving forward with the purchase of a $1.6 million building for the Human Services department after a Tuesday discussion.
On Monday, the county announced it was considering buying the building at 129 E. Byers Ave., Hot Sulphur Springs, to house its human services department after the need for a new facility was outlined in the 2018 Grand Results strategic plan.
“I think we see this as an opportunity to effectively use taxpayer money to greatly improve the facilities that we have already identified as in need,” Commissioner Merrit Linke said.
Linke and Commissioner Rich Cimino both voted to approve the contract for the Whitmer Law LLC building on Tuesday. Commissioner Kris Manguso recused herself from the discussion and vote because of her relation to the Whitmer family.
According to Assistant County Manager Ed Moyer, the county appraised the property between $1.55 million and $2 million.
The purchase won’t be final until the county finishes its inspections and the seller signs the contract. If the purchase goes through, the county aims to move the human services department into the building this summer or fall. The closing date in the contract is June 30.
Not only did the commissioners agree that purchasing the existing facility would save the county money over constructing a new office, they noted the building needs little remodeling work to be move-in ready and will significantly improve safety for staff and clients.
Human Services Director Deb Ruttenberg told the commissioners that the current buildings human services work out of don’t provide employees any separation from clients, a safe exit for employees and can put sensitive information at risk.
“We sometimes have disgruntled people and this (new building) would provide us a safer opportunity to (leave) in that setting,” Ruttenberg said.
Because the purchase is more affordable than constructing a new building, Cimino said the county would not likely finance the property but pay for it outright with the budget surplus the commissioners’ planned to use for facility needs.
Cimino and Linke also noted that they continue to have discussions around other facility needs, such as the Public Safety Facility voters rejected in November. County Manager Kate McIntire added that no decisions have been made about the current buildings housing the human services department.
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Standing at 12,007 feet elevation overlooking Grand Lake, 11-year-old Brianna McCarthy and her 13-year-old brother, Mason, picked stones from the peak of Mt. Craig to add to the stack from previous summiters.