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BENTONVILLE -- County Judge Barry Moehring presented facility needs for the coming year to Benton County justices of the peace

Moehring made the presentation Thursday when the justices met to work on the 2018 budget.

The presentation focuses on four issues: Space for the Election Commission, a courtroom for Circuit Judge Doug Schrantz, the Judicial Tower East facilities and the Benton County Rogers Office on Walnut Street.

Moehring said the Election Commission will be receiving new but larger machines next year. The commission needs 6,000 square feet and has 3,590 square feet.

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The county was notified Schrantz will have to have another courtroom sometime next year. Moehring proposed Schrantz's courtroom be moved to the county building on Main Street which houses an office for the assessor.

Moehring said they will have to do work to make the building a mini-courtroom.

Moehring showed justices of the peace in his presentation for the county to have a Rogers campus at 2115 W. Walnut Street, where a Kmart and later a car dealership used to be. There is 32,000 square feet for lease and the location has 600 parking spots, Moehring said.

The first stage of the project calls for the Election Commission, Assessor's Office and County Clerk's office to be in the old Kmart building. The first phase calls for 20,000 square feet to be used. The space would be leased for $180,000 a year, according to Moehring's presentation.

There's space where the county could have large meetings and the Board of Equalization could also meet at that location, Moehring said.

Moehring said justices of the peace could approve selling the county's Rogers building -- which was appraised for $1.5 million -- but they could renovate it where it could still be used by the county.

The renovation cost will be $250,00 to make the Main Street building in Bentonville unusable as a courtroom. Moehring said the county will save some money since they will no longer have to pay for leasing space for Schrantz's courtroom.

Moehring's presentation also concerned the Judicial Tower East Facilities at the Benton County Courthouse. The Coroner's Office, Board of Equalization and maintenance are housed in the location.

The east facilities would be demolished, but only with the approval of a new courthouse and those offices would then have to be moved.

The coroner and maintenance offices, along with space for storage will then be placed in buildings on the Road Department property on Melissa Drive. The cost of the buildings will be $193,000.

The Development Office will move into the Public Service Building and take the space vacated by Election Commission. The development office is in the old Bogle building in Bentonville. Moehring said the building was appraised at $550,000 and the county could sell it.

Moehring recommended the county lease space at the old Kmart. He recommended the county renovate or modify the county's Rogers building, which will cost $330,000.

He also recommended Schrantz's courtroom be moved into the Assessor's Annex Building, the expansion of offices to the road yard and move the Development Office into the Public Service Building on Southwest 14th Street.

"We think this is a very solid solution," Moehring said.

Justice of the Peace Tom Allen didn't participate in any discussions concerning the Kmart property. Allen said he had a business relationship with the owner of the property and wasn't participating in any conversations or having any involvement concerning the property.

Moehring said he wasn't aware of Allen's relationship with the owner when he (Moehring) looked at the property.

Justice of the Peace Mike McKenzie said he really liked Moehring's plan.

Allen said the justices of the peace have heard all the requests and it's time for them to do their homework and start making decisions.

Jay Saxton, chief public defender, requested another deputy public defender's position in the 2018 budget. The office has 10 deputy public defenders.

Saxton said the position is needed to help with a growing case load in drug court and district courts.

Drew Shover, chief juvenile probation officer, requested an additional juvenile probation officer for the office.

John Sudduth, administrator of general services, presented requests for the Sheriff's Office. The request is for $2,466,800 and the largest request is $943,000 to replace the 20-year-old 1-million-watt emergency generator and a new roof which could cost up to $750,000. Another request is for two heating/water boilers at the Sheriff's Office which will cost $250,000.

Allen said justices of the peace should consider starting a maintenance fund to handle replacing items such as the boilers. The other justices of the peace agreed they should have a maintenance fund as a line item.

NW News on 10/20/2017

Print Headline: County eyes Rogers Kmart building

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