DeKALB – An $850,000 renovation at the DeKalb Township building is all but complete, giving public officials more room to conduct their business.
The township building, 2323 S. Fourth St., DeKalb, expanded from 2,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet through a construction project that started in November. By doubling the size of the building, the township added five offices, a designated board room and ample room for record storage. The building also has a new heating and air conditioning system.
“I think it's a much more functional building,” said Township Assessor John Hietikko, whose worked in the original building since it was built in 1989.
Most notably, Hietikko and Township Supervisor Eric Johnson said, the new building gives officials the privacy to meet with customers who want to talk about personal financial or security information.
“I really like that we have the space for our public meetings,” Johnson said. “And the privacy for the clients we're meeting with. We can close the door and meet without someone hearing the conversation.”
The building houses the Township supervisor, assessor and highway commissioner, who moved back into the building in April after operating for four months out of an office building at the corner of Route 23 and Hillcrest Avenue.
Construction crews also added about 60,000 square feet of garage space, which will allow the township highway workers to park equipment such as snow plows and pickup trucks inside rather than sit outside.
The additional space will deter vandalism and eliminate the shuffle staff sometimes had to do to access equipment, Johnson said.
Township officials planned for the project using mostly cash reserves they had accumulated over the past decade when the building's limitations started becoming more apparent. Officials took out a $400,000 loan from NB&T, but Johnson expects to repay up to $250,000 of the loan immediately after the project is complete. The rest will be paid off within three years, he said.
“[The loan] was more for cash flow,” Johnson said. “We had the cash on hand and we could have done entirely cash, but if something came up like a piece of equipment broke down or a disaster happened, we wanted to make sure we could maintain operations.”
Johnson said the building should fill the township's needs for 20 to 30 years.
“We decided to take the approach of we're all here, we all work together, how can we get the best bang for our buck for the taxpayers?” Johnson said. “We wanted a very cost-effective project and I think having a project that's under $1 million that is meeting all the needs; we met that goal.”