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New Geauga County Offices Aim For One-Stop Shop

Geauga County offices at 470 Center Place [Google Earth]
Geauga County offices at 470 Center Place [Google Earth]

Geauga County will soon decide where to locate new county offices.

For years, Geauga has been adding office space as needed throughout the county, believing it was temporary, says county administrator Gerry Morgan. But it’s been decades, he says, and it’s resulted in offices scattered across Geauga. He adds, repair and maintenance costs of aging facilities are costing the county millions.

A study by R.L. Bowen & Associates found problems with the buildings and their locations.

“Leaking roofs, exterior walls that need tuck pointed, stairs that need to be replaced,” Morgan said. “And the biggest thing was the security and the access to the citizens is really limited for where the county offices are now.”

For example, building a house in Geauga requires traveling to multiple locations to meet all the necessary requirements.

“If they’re getting public sewer or public water that’s up at 470. You’ve got the health district that’s up at 470 for septic or well. But in order to get their building permit, they’ve got to go somewhere else. To make sure everything’s recorded they've got to go uptown. To get their driveway permit they've got go to the Merritt Rd area,” Morgan said. “So just to get the necessary permits for building, you've got to run all over Geauga County.”

The goal with the new county offices is to create a one-stop shop. The county is looking at a 35-acre parcel it already owns near the south end of Chardon on Rt 44, or land on Merritt Rd.

But the city of Chardon has asked the county to study the cost-effectiveness of keeping offices on the town square by demolishing some existing buildings, constructing new offices, and upgrading the courthouse. The county is waiting for the report, expected in the next few months, before moving forward.

Morgan says the county expects to be able to finance the project, estimated at over $40 million, without having to raise property taxes.

“In the evaluation we’ve done, we’ll be able to pay for the new buildings over a 30-year or so time frame with the funds that we currently have coming in taxes,” Morgan said.

“And the other benefit is we’ll have new buildings so our utility costs and our costs for operations will go down, so there’ll be some additional funds there. The buildings we’re in currently we should be able to sell to recoup some funds that would then be able to cover some of the costs also.”

He estimates two to three years before they move into new spaces.

Morgan spoke at a state of Geauga event sponsored by Geauga Growth Partnerships.

Annie Wu is the deputy editor of digital content for Ideastream Public Media.