It’s all theoretical right now, but the Ellis County Commissioners on Monday night will be asked if they want to move forward with planned construction of a new Public Works facility to replace the county shop metal building and yard built in 1964.
“We’d like to upgrade the facilities, but it depends on what they want,” said Public Works director Bill Ring.
Estimates on the cost of a new facility at the existing location on Old Highway 40 and 280th Avenue have run from $1.4 million to $1.9 million. The idea is to get all four Public Works divisions into a single facility, according to documents supplied to the county commissioners for their meeting Monday at 5 p.m. in the Ellis County Administrative Center, 718 Main St.
Currently the Environmental Services division is in the administrative center on Main Street, the Solid Waste Division is at the county landfill, 1515 W. 55th St. northeast of town, and the Road and Bridge and Noxious Weed divisions are at the yard on the north side of Old Highway 40, further east of the Hays Regional Airport.
“This would allow streamlining of administrative functions, as well as better resource planning and sharing,” says the background material for the commissioners. “However, keeping the facility at 1195 280th Avenue would prevent the Solid Waste Division from sharing in these benefits and would also constrain future expansion possibilities as the County’s parcel is hemmed in by the railroad on the south and a residential subdivision on the north.”
The shop on Old 40 includes Ring’s office, as well as office space for an administrative assistant, an office manager, a sign technician, and road and bridge foreman and supervisors. Across the yard, the Noxious Weed division has its own office and shop.
Dump trucks and those drivers work out of the building. But road grading equipment is parked overnight at the homes of the grader drivers scattered around the county, Ring said. That saves drivers from using time, fuel and wear and tear on equipment by driving the graders back and forth to the county yard.
“They’re not here every day because that would cost the county a fortune,” Ring said.
It’s possible the county could look at building a facility on land it recently leased to purchase to expand the landfill, along 240th Avenue. The parcel is bigger than needed for the landfill, according to the meeting information. That might be perfect for a new Public Works building, says the document.
“Not only would this allow for all of the department to be located in one spot, but it also provides for continued operation at the existing location during construction,” it says. “The existing location could then be sold off after operations are relocated rather than subdividing the newly-acquired parcel.”
So far the county has paid an architect $10,000 for design work, with another $3,500 needed to move forward with concept design.
“This fits within the amount budgeted and is within the purchasing limits of the County Administrator,” said the document. “However, staff wanted to check in with your Commission and see whether you approve of this direction prior to proceeding with the additional scope of services.”
An April 2018 quote from a local contractor for construction of a metal building, not including building pad or any interior finishes, plumbing or electrical, was $397,000.
The 2019 operating budget allocated $32,375 for architectural and engineering services to draw up plans for renovations at Public Works, and the capital plan includes $672,000 for construction in 2020.
Currently Environmental Services has three employees, the landfill has five, Noxious Weed has three, and nearly 40 work in Public Works, Ring said.