Routt County Board of Commissioners

Routt County Board of Commissioners

Human Services building so cramped its shortcomings are driving policies and procedures

Advertisement

— On. Nov. 10, the Routt County Board of Commissioners gained a sense of what a new, multi-million-dollar Human Services building on Sixth Street might entail.

Steamboat Architectural Associates principal Bill Rangitsch and Erica Swissler Hewitt, the firm’s project manager, presented commissioners with the results of a building needs assessment, intended to inventory the space needs of the county department for the next 20 years.

What they learned is that the Human Services Department needs more secure interview rooms, more space for staff meetings, more offices and, based on tentative plans for a two-story building, an elevator. A place in the building for children with child-sized furniture would be nice, and so would public restrooms.

Swissler told commissioners that, after surveying employees, she reached the conclusion the current building is so cramped that the lack of functional space is driving policies and procedures at Human Services.

“There is an immediate need for the department to be located in one functional building,” she said. “The existing building is overcrowded and lacks suitable secure space for staff and clients.”

The Routt County Human Services Department, led by Director Vicki Clark, currently occupies a 7,175-square-foot remodeled former mortuary across Sixth Street from the Routt County Courthouse Annex. One of its attributes is that it provides ample open space along Butcherknife Creek.

The range of services the department provides include food assistance, Medicaid, child welfare, the Fatherhood Program of Routt County and more. The staff of the department currently numbers 27, and the new building would accommodate 35.

No decision to build a new building on the current site has been made, but Rangitsch told commissioners that, based on recent conversations with building contractors, the current cost of a new, two-story, 13,000-square-foot building there could range from $3.57 million to $5 million (not including design and engineering costs). A significant cost factor is whether the county opts to build underground parking.

County Manager Tom Sullivan said the intent is to undertake building the new building within five years with help from the state of Colorado, including rent paid for some of its programs, which are delivered by the Department of Human Services.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

Comments

Scott Wedel 1 month, 1 week ago

I strongly suggest that any new Human Services facilities be designed to distribute services around the county.

I can't say how many times I have given rides to people from Oak Creek to SB that are seeking Human Services. It is extremely unfair to many citizens of Routt County that the county government has made so little effort to distribute services around the county.

Private businesses are now days routinely managing people thousands of miles away. It is simply no longer acceptable to say that Human Services will be centrally located in SB and people in need must travel 20+ miles to reach Human Services.

0

Debbie Milstead 1 month, 1 week ago

Scott-

Is the reason they need human services due to the fact they don't drive. They can't be employed because they don't have transportation?

0

doug monger 1 month, 1 week ago

Scott, the commissioners have been advocating for that for years. We totally are looking at all of that as options. A West Routt Campus and a South Routt Campus for many county services is quite appealing to me, ie (Sheriff, Clerk, Motor Vehicle, Human Service, Extension, etc.). It could also be the same facility with different days for for different departments. The cost of land is less, services are distributed, economic diversity and stimulation for those areas and many times there are facilities that can be rented versus the county having to build new facilities at $450/sf. Concerns that we have heard is the supervisory part of operations to have supervisory abilities in those remote locations, as well as scheduling of the facilities and where to house these employees if they are not located in that remote facility full time. I/we will keep looking at those options. Thanks Doug Monger

1

Scott Wedel 1 month, 1 week ago

Doug,

Thank you for your clarifying response.

The concerns of managing people in a different building is so 20th century. My sister works in SF and she has managed people spread around the world including Israel. It is an interesting concept to manage people whose 9-5 work day has no overlap with your 9-5 work day, but it is nothing new in the 21st century.

As for how to how to staff remote facilities, it looks like the current ideas are trying to make it way too complex. It should be recognized that the great majority of walk up services are generic simple situations and don't need the most highly trained individuals in that dept. Thus, there is no reason that one employee couldn't accept documents to be recorded for the clerk's office, provide DMV functions of registering a new vehicle, be the initial contact for Human Services, accept property tax payments for the Treasurer's office and so on.

The more complex situations would be expected to have the local rep to typically call in the main office for assistance. Modern video conferencing tools allow a person to demonstrate on their computer how the remote person needs to do it on their computer. It just requires using the proper network security.

If there is enough complex situations then have a day or two a week in which a person capable to handle those is assigned to the local office. It would be very similar to how Bank of San Juans operates local branches where the local office can handle deposits, withdraws, certified checks, etc, but a loan application might have limited hours or require a trip to SB branch.

0

Scott Wedel 1 month, 1 week ago

The one "service" that I would put as being the most important to find a way to offer locally are the drug tests mandated by probation. Having to travel to SB when probably not able to drive means some drug tests are missed by not getting a ride. The probation dept is thus not able to distinguish between some using it as an excuse knowing that they would test positive between those honestly not able to get a ride. I have personally observed both situations and it isn't good because it allows people on probation to mostly get away with using drugs and it puts honest people under suspicion.

It is also extremely disruptive to someone trying to work as the trip to and from SB largely eliminates a day of work with little notice. The drug tester is a specialized job that should have rotating hours in different locations.

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.