By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE — Staff members are preparing to leave the 52-year-old City Hall behind in about three months as the building faces mounting repairs and lacks space for future growth.
"This is really more of a short-term solution," said City Manager Andrea Gardner about the proposed move from Main Street to rental property in the 200 block of West Avenue D.
City Hall needs several repairs, including an $80,000 roof reconstruction. Staff members have found several areas of standing water after heavy rain, which has ruined electrical equipment, said Gardner. Some of the equipment was replaced through Texas Municipal League insurance, but the organization recently said it will no longer replace equipment damaged at City Hall.
"We have more staff than we have space," she said. "And the building is just deteriorating. We (will) continue to accrue problems if we stay in this building."
So the city decided to lease space for five years while it comes up with a permanent solution.
Some staff members will occupy space in the Coryell Central Appraisal District's building, while others will move into a building next door.
The city already pays $2,500 per month for about 2,500 square feet of space in the district's building, which currently houses Copperas Cove's building compliance offices.
The additional office building, which is about 2,100 square feet, needs council approval before a lease is signed, said Gardner, who estimates paying $2,000 per month for that space.
Argon ST, a defense contractor, leased the space until February, said Jack Smith, with Donnie McMullin Real Estate, which will likely lease the second building to the city.
"That (rent cost) includes all of the furnishings that are already in the building," said Smith. The city has viewed the site and it seems to meet their needs, he said.
Once approved by the council, the plan is to move human resources, information systems and the city manager's staff into the appraisal district's building, according to information from the city. Finance, budget and the city secretary offices will move to the adjacent building on Avenue D, and building compliance will get space in the public works building at 1601 N. First St.
Relocation will cost the city about $28,000, Gardner said, but another $40,000 will be saved by consolidating staff positions among departments. No layoffs are planned, she added. Instead, the city will shift staff and eliminate some open positions.
Once the move is complete, the only space still used in City Hall will be the council chambers, said Gardner.
Copperas Cove officials have not made official plans for building a new city hall, but the issue has been discussed for years.
"By the end of that five-year lease we could have a new building constructed and ready to be filled," said Gardner.
Currently, the city is conducting a needs-assessment for a joint-use building that would include places for multiple city and county government offices, including the Copperas Cove Independent School District, Coryell County and the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation. The one-stop shop would make government services more easily accessible to residents, Gardner said.
"I bet by spring of next year is when we could have that needs assessment (finished), and that is when (residents) will start to see some decisions being made," she said.
One unlikely choice is renovating or tearing down City Hall and rebuilding on the same site. Gardner said parking would be a problem on Main Street.
Other potential building sites include the old police station, which provides a bigger lot and more parking, or the current H-E-B, which will be closed when the new store opens in the Shops of Five Hills development.
Contact Mason W. Canales at email@example.com or (254) 501-7474. Follow him on Twitter at KDHCoveEditor.