City Hall Gets a New Look
It's a project that city leaders hope will streamline and centralize the city's government. City Manager Bill Watkins has a vision but it comes with a price tag of about $20 million. Columbia City Hall is in the first phase of a 3-part project to centralize city government.
"It provides much better customer service. And that's important because when people come in to get a permit or do business, they're not having to go around and visit three or four or five buildings to get their business done. It will be one stop shop right here," Watkins said.
Phase One is well underway, on the first floor of the Daniel Boone Building on Broadway where there's electrical work, a sprinkler system overhaul, and the workers are actually raising the floor. The expansion will allow employees in number of scattered facilities to work under the same roof. The city has a bunch of offices in the downtown area. For example, the Finance Department, just a couple blocks away from City Hall, rents an entire floor, at the Bank of America building. The bottomline is efficiency for employees as well as residents.
"I think the other benefit is being more present with the staff we regularly work with. Again, right now, we do it by phone and e-mail but you don't have that opportunity for face-to-face interaction," Sarah Perry of the Columbia Finance Department said.
Rent from those satellite offices and property tax revenue will help pay for the project. Phase One of City Hall's first floor renovations will be finished in about two months. The entire project will be done by 2010.