Published Date Written by Barbara TetreaultBERLIN – The Coos County Commissioners are recommending the county convert the administrator’s house into office space when County Administrator Sue Collins retires at the end of this year.
The county delegation, which has voted to sell the house, will be asked to consider the option when it meets Friday.
The commission has made it clear it prefers retaining the house located on the county grounds in West Stewartstown. At the commission’s July meeting, the board asked Collins to look at the possibility of renting the house.
At yesterday’s meeting, Collins reported she explored several options for renting the house. Preferring to have someone from law enforcement in the house, she said the county spoke to a U.S. Border Service agent who expressed interest but was not ready to make a decision. Collins noted Commissioner Paul Grenier had suggested renting to the contract nurses the county hires to fill nursing shortages. Collins said the nursing home is working to reduce its use of contract nurses. She said the county would also be competing with private landlords in the area.
Collins said another option is to move the county’s administrative offices into the house. Currently they are located in the 2008 addition to the West Stewartstown Nursing Hospital. She said office space is limited and sometimes there is confusion among employees over whose in charge between nursing home and county administrative heads.
Director of Finance Jennifer Fish, who will assume the top position when Collins retires, said she supported the idea of moving the county administrative offices to the house. She agreed with Collins on separating nursing home and county administration. She also noted that employees and department heads are sharing offices at different floors of the facility.
Commissioner Burnham Judd said he opposes selling the house and favored the idea of separating the two administrative staffs and moving the county administration to the house. He said if the proposed new Medicaid Managed Care System is enacted, the county will need room for more clerical help.
Collins said the house has a meeting room in the basement, four bathrooms, and is handicap accessible. She estimated it could be renovated into office space for about $15,000.
Commissioner Tom Brady asked Collins to develop some basic floor plans showing how the house would be converted into office space for the delegation’s Friday meeting.
Collins said she will suggest moving the offices for the county administrator, finance director, unincorporated places tax collector/administrator assistant, and payroll clerk to the house.
Collins was asked if moving the offices into the house would have any effect on payment of the bond issue for the addition. When the addition was built, Collins said $450,000 of the $1.4 million cost came from the unincorporated places budget surplus because part of the addition contains office space for the unincorporated places. The remaining money was bonded and Collins said the payments are covered in the general fund budget. Collins noted administration for the unincorporated places has been housed in the county nursing home for decades and the $450,000 represented that use.
The delegation voted in March to subdivide a two-acre parcel containing the administrator’s house from the main grounds and put the house up for sale when Collins retires and moves out. Collins is scheduled to retire Dec. 31. Fish does not plan to live in the house. The delegation will hold its quarterly meeting this Friday at 10 a.m. at the North Country Resource Center on Route 3 in Lancaster