JUDGE: Moving out of downtown just makes sense
For over 16 months Milam County has carefully and cautiously investigated the idea of consolidating its administrative services under one roof.
The opportunity first presented itself in December of 2018 when Little River declared bankruptcy and vacated an 8.5-acre campus in Cameron. Since then we have taken stock of the deteriorating condition of nine buildings the county now uses for administration purposes, the long term cost savings of consolidation, the feasibility of renovating the former hospital and the convenience for the public of having one stop county services.
The court hired Mr. Stanley Graves of ArchiTexas to draft architectural plans to renovate the former 35,000-square foot building and the final plans were sent out for public bid in May. The closing date for bidding is 3 p.m. this Friday, June 19, 2020, and the bids will be publicly opened at Commissioners Court on Monday, June 23, 2020. The entire set of plans are available for public viewing on the Milam County web site. The Court will carefully consider the best bid and thereafter make a final decision.
However, the project made sense many months ago and today it continues to make sense.
Over $1 million in repairs are needed for the nine buildings the County now owns and uses for administrative purposes in downtown Cameron.
For some buildings such as Bea’s Kitchen, the cost of the repairs are more than the overall value of the building.
New roofs are needed on the District Attorney’s building, Bea’s Kitchen, the Museum and the former jail building. The money will be better spent for renovation of a structurally sound, utility efficient building where all county administration can be centrally housed. In addition, freeing up building space in downtown Cameron will allow new business to come in and revitalize the beautiful downtown square.
But this is no little project. Renovating 35,000 square feet of space is no easy task and it will cost money.
We will learn next week about “how much” when we open the bids. However, the Court does not plan to raise county taxes for the renovation costs. No doubt it will be well worth the investment as a consolidated operation will save utility costs, maintenance costs and repair costs. Plus, the 8.5-acre campus has room for expansion and contains two other structures with over 16,000 square feet of building space that can be renovated for other uses.
The move makes so much sense that it has been endorsed by the Cameron Chamber of Commerce, the Cameron Industrial Foundation, Cameron Mayor Pro Tem and Citizen of the Year Bobby Schiller and community leader Monica Schiller, Cameron Councilwoman KiKi Sims, Rockdale Mayor John King, businessman Gordon Todd and many, many others. All things considered, consolidating county administration, just makes good sense.