The Camden County Commission has yet to make a decision on what offices will be moved into a building purchased in January as an annex to provide additional office space.

The Camden County Commission has yet to make a decision on what offices will be moved into a building purchased in January as an annex to provide additional office space. 

The county may begin moving offices into the building in late November or early December once a decision is made about who will occupy the space. 

Although no final decisions have been made, there have been discussions about moving human resources, the county commission office and planning and zoning.

Associate Commissioner Don William said he is sure the human resource department will not be moved to the new space. That department needs to stay in the main courthouse where the majority of the employees are, he said. 

“Barring any unforeseen problems, we plan to have permits available in the new building for Road & Bridge, Planning and Zoning and Wastewater.  We would like to have a one-stop shop situation for folks to get all their permits in one location,” he said. “The Prosecuting Attorney has been requesting additional office space for about a year, so they will probably be the first ones to move into the new building.  As of now, we don’t know exactly how many offices they require – and their main offices will remain in the Justice Building – but we want to make the additional space available to them first.”

The building did require some renovation and needed to have accommodations  making it handicap accessible. 

The county purchased the building at a cost of $600,000 over a 20-year lease purchase agreement for the one acre parcel of land adjacent to the courthouse and Camden County Justice Center.  The building was the former law office for Phillips, McElyea, Carpenter and Welch. The former occupants leased the building back from the county for a period of six months at a monthly rate of $2,000. The property was appraised at $700,000 prior to the sale. 

The county purchased the building with the intention of easing complaints of overcrowding and a lack of space within the courthouse. The lack of office space had been discussed for several years before the purchase was announced. At one point, the commission discussed renovating the former post office building that the county purchased years ago.The building has been used as a storage facility in recent years and it is deteriorating. In order for the old post office to to be suitable for office space, the building would have required  extensive renovation, including a new roof.

The building occupies three stories with a total of 12,800 square feet of space. There are 16 individual office spaces in the building, six bathrooms, a kitchen and breakroom, two conference rooms, two reception areas, two offices for record storage, a filing room and a fireproof vault. There are also two detached storage buildings on the property. 

The transaction is being handled by Gilmore Bell, legal and bond counsel, of Kansas City. Gilmore Bell has been involved with a number of projects in Camden County. The closing on the property is scheduled for Jan. 18, 2019. 

Charles McElyea, of Phillips. McElyea, Carpenter and Welch, is a legal advisor to the Camden County Commission, other elected officials and departments. The building is the only privately held property on the same side of the square as the courthouse. 

The law firm is leasing the building back from the county for a period of six months at a monthly rate of $2,000 while they move into leased office space in Camdenton. 

The law firm has been in business since 1939 when it was established by founder Hugh Phillips. The offices have been located on Court Circle in the same location since the late 1940s when the building was built.  

Several options are under consideration by the commission about what offices to move to the building. Some that have been mentioned include the planning and zoning department, wastewater and the commissioners office. No decisions have been formalized. 

Overcrowding and a lack of space within the Camden County Courthouse has been an issue under discussion since at least 2017. At one point, the commission discussed renovating the former post office building that the county purchased years ago.The building has been used as a storage facility in recent years and it is deteriorating. In order to be suitable for office space, the building would require extensive renovation, including a new roof, according to information provided by the county in Feb. of 2017.