For over 20 years there has been a need to build a new county administration building. The operations in the current County-City Building have evolved from administration to justice services housing mainly courts and the prosecutors’ offices. The City of Tacoma no longer has a presence in the building except for the City Attorney’s Prosecution Division. Over the years, various County departments have been relocated to the Annex and other leased spaces. Our analysis of the Annex concludes it has exceeded its lifespan and needs an estimated $12 million in system and structural upgrades…and that's just to maintain the status quo. Instead, this building will now be sold. Further, we currently spend $3.2 million on leasing about 150,000 square feet of commercial office space in eight buildings spread throughout Tacoma.
Good business sense
We will redirect the eight current lease payments to this new building, and the consolidation will enable us to cut 38 staff positions (saving another $4 million a year). No taxes will be raised to pay for this. We can pay for it with existing resources and the savings gained from consolidating our services, and the savings will grow over time. The current economic forecast and historically low Interest rates provide for an excellent time for this investment.
Efficient delivery of services
The County’s adopted “Service First” philosophy will be implemented in this building ensuring the efficient delivery of services by providing a “one-stop shop” for customers. 19 departments and divisions will be consolidated. The new building will house approximately 1,300 employees – including about 250 from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, an independent agency that is joining the County as a tenant in the new building. Other tenants will include four departments from the Pierce County Annex and a small retail space. The building is also projected to save in utility and maintenance costs.
A continued presence in downtown Tacoma
The County's existing downtown campus, anchored by the County-City Building, will continue to house about 1,000 employees from the law and justice sectors in what will be redeveloped with existing resources over time as the Pierce County Justice Center. We recently finished an initial analysis of the 55-year-old building's systems and life-safety upgrade needs, as well as how we could reorganize agencies in the building to improve internal efficiencies and customer service. We anticipate implementing those updates in stages.
You can learn more about the General Services Building project by visiting it's website. As always, please contact me if you have any comments, questions or concerns.