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Stalled center suffering from ‘administrative constipation'

April 03, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

The county's stalled Northend Administration Center, also known as the Brawley Administration Center, got a kick in the pants from county Supervisor Gary Wyatt at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

The project, at the former Bank of America building on Main Street in Brawley, was held up in the county property services department while other projects received higher priority.

"It's incumbent on us to solve a serious case of administrative constipation," Wyatt said.

The center, one of 38 property services projects, will be used to house county services and a courthouse.

Other projects receive higher priority because they depend on grant money that has a deadline on when the money will be available, county property services director Randy Rister said.

Jack Hart of Brawley said the center is time-sensitive because the longer it takes to complete, the more people in the Northend think the county does not care about them.


Hart is a member of the Northend County Task Force. The task force formed to prod the county to bring services to the Northend.

Wyatt has received complaints and met with Northend residents who want the county to move faster on the administration center.

The Bank of America building was purchased for $1.45 million in spring 1999. At that time $460,000 was set aside to remodel the building. The state ordered more security for the center, leaving the county to look for another $400,000 in grants. About $114,000 of the project's total money went to engineering and design costs.

Wyatt said the county has $758,000 available for the project and is seeking another $220,000 in state grants. In addition, the county Sheriff's Office and Behavioral Health Services have money set aside for their departments' setup in the center.

Bids for the center came in over-budget in January, Rister said. County property services will start the bidding again in phases in the next few weeks to save money.

Wyatt said it should take up to two months to complete the bidding, then work will get started. He said by the end of 2002 the county could be occupying at least the second floor of the building.

Rister said his department's plate is full, it is understaffed and open positions are unfilled because the department's salaries are not competitive.

"We train people and they go on to higher-paying jobs," he said.

Rister asked the board how to rectify the problem.

Wyatt said he wants to suspend sending new projects to county property services for one month so it can get caught up on existing work. He also said the salary problem will be addressed in a county human resources study due in a few months.

"I'm not certain we can make a motion to suspend activity but I will be a reminder to the board not to accept new projects," Wyatt said.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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