City moves foward with moving Assessor's office off-site
Office space would be rented above Bar Nine
WEST FARGO — The city of West Fargo may spend about $328,000 over three years to house the assessor's office above a bar as it studies the crowding of the current City Hall.
Last month, City Administrator Tina Fisk proposed renting off-site space last month as city staff studies the need for a new city hall or police headquarters. She said the current City Hall building at 801 4th Ave. E., West Fargo, does not have enough room for current staff and a study for city building needs is on going. At that time, the commission authorized staff to advance negotiations for the space at 1405 Prairie Parkway, which is above Bar Nine, near 13th Avenue and Ninth Street East. The commission also asked return a cost estimate that was not available at the Sept. 19 meeting.
Monday, Oct. 3, Assistant City Administrator Dustin Scott said the space is priced well for the current market. He said the first year would cost about $150,000, which would include about $89,000 in rent plus office furnishings and technology needs. The additional cost would then be about $89,000 to lease the space.
"There is no deposit down or up front payments required," Scott said. "We are anticipating that due to the current market, just the time it takes to it will be three to five years before we are in a new facility."
The lease costs are not a part of the 2023 city budget as passed by the City Commission earlier in the evening. City staff recommended using COVID-19 relief funds it has to finance the first year then consider using "sales tax and general fund reserves" in the future, according to a memo presented to the commission.
The space would accommodate up to 13 staff including a conference room, storage and other support areas. There is plenty of shared parking in front of the building and the city would have 10 dedicated overnight parking spaces in the back of the building that will be monitored by a security camera.
But, the rent cost was based on a five year lease. However, Assessor Nick Lee said the city would have the option to leave the lease after three years.
"I"m not comfortable with the five year lease," Commissioner Mark Simmons said.
The assessor's office, which has about six employees, was chosen to be housed off site because the staff is often out of City Hall and working around the city. City Commissioner Roben Anderson suggested the city consider a hybrid model for those employees, that would use a mix of working at City Hall and working remotely, but Fisk said remote employees do not foster a good collaboration relationship with the rest of City Hall and residents "want to see employees" when they come to City Hall.
Monday, the commission directed staff to negotiate three-year lease terms. Staff will need to return a final offer to the commission before the project moves foward.