The Puyallup City Council has given the green light to interim City Manager Bill McDonald for a reorganization plan to move some department operations from the fourth floor to the fifth floor of city hall.
The idea to maximize space was first considered under past city manager Ralph Dannenberg.
McDonald wants to move the city attorney, human resources and the public works director to the fifth floor, because he works with them regularly.
“I’m really pleased with the model that the staff brought before us,” Mayor Rick Hansen said. “The ability for staff to effectively deal with problems is enhanced because there will be less moving from one floor to another.”
Doing so will require minimal reconfiguration of office space, including transforming an outside conference room on the fifth floor into the human resources headquarters, moving the security doors forward, and reducing the number of council offices to one shared space.
Public Works Director Rob Andreotti said the cost would be $10,000 to $12,000, and it would come out of the general fund.
In a phased approach, the city plans to open up half the fourth floor for government or nonprofit agencies to lease space. And in the case a tenant would like to lease an entire floor, an agreement would come before council.
In a second phase, approved by council, finance, engineering and development services departments on the third floor would likely be moved to the second and fourth floors, and the third floor would be occupied by an outside government or nonprofit agency, Andreotti said.
With that configuration, Andreotti said there would be considerable tenant improvements, and the move would demand a much higher cost.
“Moving finance is probably the biggest expense, because we would have to rebuild a utility billing counter,” Andreotti said.
Some residents consider the 5-year-old, $38 million city hall facility a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Deputy John Knutsen, who once described the building as “an albatross,” said the plans to fill out the fifth floor and make way for leased space is a step in the right direction.
Yet Knutsen also said an entire floor should be vacated for another government agency.
“Personally, I don’t see vacating portions of floors as logical,” Knutsen said. “If you vacate an entire floor, then you don’t have to worry about utilities, and a vacant floor may look more attractive to a tenant.”
Knutsen said he’s fine with bringing department heads closer to the city manager, but that presents what he called a “two-headed sword.”
“Department heads aren’t close to their staff and prevents staff from accessing their manager,” Knutsen said.
Knutsen would like to see the city positioned to vacate an entire floor.
“(I think) citizens would say we’re moving in the right direction to better utilize the right space, and we’ll continue to do that,” Hansen said. “I’m glad we’re looking at (the fifth floor), and we will be looking at other floors. So, the good news is that, in the end, there will be space to lease out to pay for this building, and we will still be able to fulfill the mission of serving the citizens of Puyallup. We can definitely do it with less space.”Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.