Last week in the full Commission meeting, as the issue of approving the bid for remodeling the old Regions bank building came up for a vote, I moved to table this issue until plans to use the courthouse were made, but no one seconded and my motion died. Commissioner Anderson then moved to send the issue back to the Courthouse and Property for further discussion, which barely passed with 10 votes.
Tonight in the C&P committee meeting, the agenda was amended to allow John Davis to speak first (because he had to go to the Board of Education meeting) He explained the new plans for Regions that had been drawn up, and spoke briefly on the courthouse plans which included leaving the Mayors office there. After his presentation, Commissioner Yockey quickly moved to approve the 1st floor remodel and was quickly seconded. I interrupted the call for a vote to remind everyone the Commission had sent this issue back to our committee for discussion and that I had a few ideas I wanted to go over. At first it seemed as if no-one on the committee was interested in doing that. My initial comments were, that up to this point, no-one has asked for our committee's input and as the Courthouse & Property Committee, we should have already had discussions on how these buildings are to be used. I still have concerns over spending over $325,000 for the main floor remodel, and most importantly, we have no real plans for the use of the Courthouse.
I presented a few ideas on using the Courthouse, which included leaving the Mayors office in the Courthouse (happily, the new Annex plans had already removed the Mayor's office from the Annex), and also moving the Finance Dept. to the courthouse 3rd floor, with the Elections office later being moved to the Dover Street building. There was some good discussion not only from the committee but from other commissioners who had stayed for our committee meeting.
In the end, the committee voted 4-1 to recommend that the full Commission approve the bid for the main floor of the Annex. I voted no, because we still do not have a firm plan on the courthouse use and I still think $325,000 is too much for that main floor remodel. The other floors of the Annex have different layouts from the original plan and will have to be re-bid, but I believe last night may have been the end of any real discussions on the Annex.
I know some may criticize my actions as being obstructive and just delaying the inevitable, but I count my actions as being successful. We were successful in moving debate back to the proper committee and engaged the public in the discussions. We were successful in ensuring the Mayors office will stay in the courthouse and the floor plans of the courthouse are now being evaluated for future renovations.
While it may be the end of debate on the Annex, it is the beginning of correcting the manner of how the standing committees should be used.
Doing the RIGHT thing for the RIGHT reason !!