The Ellis County health department is now one step closer to moving to its new home across town. The county commission on Monday approved a construction contract for improvements to the future health clinic building at 2507 Canterbury.

The low bid — of six proposals — came from Hays-based Commercial Builders at $219,000. The total comes to $240,900 with a 10-percent contingency built in for any overages. That’s within the county’s project budget of nearly $300,000 for the health clinic improvements.

Ellis County commissioners said the low bid was “good news.”

“This is such a difference than what we’ve gone through in previous years,” Commission chairperson Barbara Wasinger said.

The health department has been located at 601 Main for many years. Kansas State University Research and Extension programs will continue to occupy that building.

The health clinic improvements are scheduled for completion within 90 working days. Once the department moves to its new home, the county also plans to expand health services by contracting with a mid-level provider.

The Extension building also could be undergoing physical reconstruction in the near future. While the health clinic is funded by Ellis County, improvements to the Main Street building were included in a bond issue approved by voters in 2013.

Approximately $266,000 in bond proceeds remain to be spent on those improvements, with another $30,000 earmarked in the county capital improvement budget. It’s not yet clear what improvements will be made to the building, as cost estimates are coming in higher than expected due to ongoing flooding and stormwater control issues on the property, which is in the floodplain.

County officials recently explored the possibility of also moving Extension services to another building, but it doesn’t appear that doing so would realize any savings, County Administrator Phillip Smith-Hanes said Monday.

“It was not any cheaper than fixing up 601 Main,” he said. “I talked to staff about that, and they were not excited about moving if it wasn’t going to save any money. So we got the architect back on track with design for 601 Main. We are continuing to explore all options.”

The county has hired Ben Moore Studios, a Manhattan-based design firm, for architectural services at both buildings.

In other business, the commission:

• Discussed the possibility of televising meetings and will revisit the topic next week.

• Reviewed the 2017 budget and approved year-end transfers of remaining funds. There was a total of approximately $1.5 million in unused revenues to be transferred to reserve funds, which is a positive long-term financial decision for the county, Smith-Hanes said.

• Approved 2018 annual salaries for elected officials as follows: $19,826.45 for commissioners; $81,765.86 for county attorney; $61,042.94 for county clerk, plus an $8,000 election stipend; $57,728.11 for county treasurer; $53,183.25 for register of deeds; and $81,765.86 for county sheriff.