Stearns County Government Expanding

Stearns County Government Expanding Click to Enlarge Photo: KNSI News

(KNSI) - Stearns County is moving ahead with a $12 million project to expand the service center in Waite Park and renovate the downtown administration center.

The county did a space study last summer which recommended moving many of the county offices.

The county plans to move all county services to Waite Park with the exception of human services, the county attorney’s office, and the department of motor vehicles. Those departments will remain downtown.

The project will be paid for with county bonding money. The county estimates it will cost $10 million for the expansion, which will almost double the size of the building, and $2 million to renovate the downtown building.

Bids for the service center will go out in the spring and construction will start a short time later.

The remodel of the administration building will go out for bids in the summer of 2019 with completion slated for 2020.

County Administrator Mike Williams says this move makes sense for a couple of reasons.

"It's going to be more efficient for our employees because we’re going to be able to locate people next to the departments they should be, the services will be located closer to rural customers, and lastly we just need space, the size of county government has grown across the state not just here in Stearns County."

Williams says county government is expanding because of more state requirements in child protection laws, more requirements for mentally ill residents, and to provide more services to assist in signing people up for state insurance.

In 2017 the county added 17 employees and plans to add another 17 in 2018.

Next month, the county will look to hire an architect to put together a design for the service center expansion.

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