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Supervisors Expected To OK $730K in Improvements to Government Center

UPDATED: At the July 16 meeting, this project was pulled from the board of supervisors’ agenda to allow county officials to make some slight changes in project funding details. Madera County Deputy CAO Joel Bugey said Tuesday, July 16, that he expects the project to be back up for supervisor approval in early August.

MADERA — The second and third floors of the Madera County Government Center are about to get major makeovers.

At their regular meeting this week on Tuesday, July 16, supervisors are expected to OK a construction project that will create additional office space at the Government Center while making an existing department more user-friendly — and secure.

The so-called “tenant improvements” will result in 3,600 square feet of new third-floor office space, most of which will be used by the County’s Water and Natural Resources Division.

Created about three years ago, the division’s staff has been working in cramped quarters on the Government Center’s fourth floor in the same area as Human Resources and the County’s Chief Administrative Officer, Eric Fleming.

The move to the third floor will allow Water and Natural Resources Director Stephanie Anagnoson and her staff to have their own dedicated area.

The construction work, expected to be approved by the board on Tuesday, will also replace existing counters and add bullet-proof fiberglass windows in the second floor offices of Treasurer and Tax Collector Tracy Kennedy.

“Staff has been working on the details of this project for more than six months,” District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler said. “When I first came into office in 2007, that whole third floor was still empty.”

Clovis-based Paul Halagian Architects drew up the plans for the project. Halagian’s firm is also designing the new, $25 million Oakhurst Community College Center campus.

Hilmar, Calif.-based Harris Builders will act as the general contractor on the build out, which is expected to cost about $708,000. (The new counters and bullet-proof windows in the Treasurer and Tax Collector department, which is technically a separate project, will cost an additional $25,300.)

Harris Builders, which plans to use 14 area subcontractors on the job, recently completed a $2 million modernization project for Merced City Schools and also a $1 million remodel of Modesto Irrigation District’s office.

Madera County’s $33 million, four-story Government Center — and adjacent parking structure — first opened in 2007. Less than a year later, the 2008 financial crisis and resulting Great Recession cut the county’s revenues — and workforce — by more than half.

So for a number of years after the building opened, the entire third floor remained empty.

The initial build out of the Public Works and Community & Economic Development departments on the third floor wasn’t actually completed until 2014, leaving approximately 3,883 square feet near the communal break room still unfinished.

“The creation of the Water and Natural Resources Department necessitates additional office and cubicle space,” said a recent staff report to supervisors. “Neither Public Works nor Community & Economic Development departments have the available office space to house the department.”

“The county has had an influx of development impact fees so now is the time to get this done,” Wheeler said. “The [3rd floor build out] will open things up and give everybody a little more space to work in.”

In addition to creating new office space for Water and Natural Resources staff, the project also will add a new conference room and printing/copy area.

According to the architect’s drawings, neutral, mostly off-white colors including “cottontail, coastal fog and Chantilly lace” will be used in the finish work. Blueprints submitted by the architect also call for installation of modular lighting and a custom audio/visual system.

The improvements at the Government Center won’t be limited to the third floor.

On the second floor, in the Treasurer and Tax Collector departments, supervisors are also expected to OK architect-designed changes that replace existing staff counters and add bullet-proof fiberglass windows — referred to as “transparent bullet resistant assemblies” in the architect’s plans.

The new widows will make the department — and the staffers working there — more secure, Wheeler said.

“The Treasurer and Tax Collectors offices handle millions of dollars and you’d be surprised about how much of it is in cash,” Wheeler added. “With everything that’s going on in our world today, I think Tracy believes it’s better to be safe than sorry. She’s been talking about needing to do this for a couple of years now.”

Wheeler emphasized that the third-floor expansion and 2nd floor remodel will have no net impact on the County’s General Fund.

“Everything is being paid using impact fees the County charges developers to build all of these new houses.”

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