The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors approved an initial facility study assessment for $12,000 Monday morning to evaluate existing county buildings and possibly pave the way for building a new county headquarters.
The board met with Major Design Studio of Columbus at its meeting March 15 to start the preliminary conversation about the possibility of creating a new facility to house county departments. MDS provided an extensive presentation of projects the company has completed in the past.
MDS Principal Ryan Ashford outlined an initial study to assess the architecture and engineering of all existing county buildings, and the board approved the spending for this assessment 5-0.
“We’re going to see what the best option for them is in terms of letting them know which steps they need to take from here and how they need to move forward after we do our assessment,” Ashford said.
MDS will review the county-owned facilities in terms of age, size, insurance and utility costs, usage and functionality. The company will also be comparing the square footage of existing buildings to what the square footage would be for one potential facility to house all county departments.
Board President and District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams said he is confident in the services MDS will provide, and the board will receive great insight after the assessment is conducted.
“I think we have employed a very competent group of people with this company with an extensive amount of experience with doing this kind of study,” Williams said. “They’re great architectural people. I believe they will do a great job with Oktibbeha County, and I believe they will get us started in the right direction.”
Williams said this study will assist the board in terms of knowing which steps to take next after the assessment, whether that be creating a new building or updating the current ones.
“It is going to benefit the taxpayers because we don’t have enough space for our county administration and other county employees to function decently,” Williams said. “It will give us additional space, and we will save money for heating and cooling problems in the long run. We’re thinking about a long-term plan.”
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said he thinks the county needs a new facility because it would be difficult to add a new position or create a new department due to the lack of space.
Trainer said the board has no solid plans yet for creating a new building in regards to location, price or which departments the facility would house. He said once the study is completed, then the board will evaluate where to go from there.
“We want to make sure that we don’t make some wishes and do something that we really can’t do because of money,” Trainer said.
Trainer also acknowledged the board has spent money on studies before where it has not taken any further action. He said he does not know what the outcome of this study will be until it is conducted and the supervisors have acquired all the data.
While there may be no concrete plans in place, Trainer said he sees the need for a new county facility. He said county employees and residents need a space that is both dependable and intact.
“Hopefully, we can find something that we can move forward on because we realize that we have a lot of facilities that have aged and don’t have as much functionality,” Trainer said. “Then also, the safety too, because we want our employees to be in a safe, functional space. It’s a process we should’ve done years ago, but now we’re finally moving forward.”