BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission decided Tuesday that now is not the time to buy property for additional office and warehouse space.
Instead, the commission voted unanimously to delay any discussion of the issue until January. At that time, County Administrator David Hamilton will bring back his previous proposal to reconfigure office space in the government center in downtown Brooksville, a plan that calls for the eventual move of county administration into the historic courthouse portion of the complex. He also will bring an analysis of judicial space needs.
In March, the commission asked Hamilton to continue to explore options for providing more county and judicial space.
Most recently, Hamilton offered the option of purchasing property owned by SunTrust Bank several blocks west of the government center on Broad Street, property that once was the site of Register Chevrolet. His proposal was to move the property appraiser, tax collector and supervisor of elections to the site, along with county land services.
The moves would give those constitutional officers and county employees sufficient office and storage space while freeing up the government center for additional court space, according to the staff report.
County staffers estimate that the renovations could run about $946,000.
Even before the county could begin to consider the purchase, the county would have to spend about $16,000 for appraisals and surveys, according to Russell Wetherington, the county's chief procurement officer.
Commissioner John Druzbick said that settling the county's 2011-12 budget is the commission's first priority right now, and other commissioners agreed to the delay.
Commission Chairman Jim Adkins said he wanted to see a report on the utilization and the need for additional judicial space by the time the other issues come back before the commission.
"Make it as factual as possible,'' he said.
Hamilton said the county didn't have the resources to do the analysis, but that he would be happy to request the information from the Chief Circuit Judge Daniel Merritt Sr.
Merritt has been the chief advocate for adding more courtrooms.
Druzbick suggested that the county seek help from an organization based in Washington that studies judicial space needs. The organization does not charge anything but travel expenses and room and board, he said.
Commissioner Jeff Stabins had a different take.
"Is this a rerun of a previous board meeting?'' asked Stabins, referring to the fact the commission had discussed the same issues before. "I feel like I'm watching summer reruns.''
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.