Mayor Leo Lutz said there is not enough room for borough operations at the municipal building. "We're constantly juggling things around," he said. Lutz said the records room was outgrown 16 years ago and now contains two offices out of necessity.
Lutz said he has talked to our legislators about a potential move, and they thought it was a good idea. He said that if we cut costs, we can show legislators what we've done on our own before asking for financial help. A barrier to consolidation is Luther Care, a child care organization, which occupies a part of the DAC. Lutz said he had heard Luther Care is looking to move out, but Leader said he didn't know anything about them leaving. Leader added that space at the DAC is tight also.
Councillor Mary Wickenheiser said the borough needs extra space due to added services: codes, clerks, etc. "There are more people working in this building," she said. Codes manager Steve Kaufhold said his department needs more space, because the borough is no longer using third-party inspectors. He said seven codes employees are now using a 12 x 12 area.
Council president Kelly Murphy said, "We're upping our game, especially with codes. We've got the whole building crammed to the max." He noted that moving to the DAC is just an option. "This is the first discussion," Murphy said. "We're looking at options." He said the borough is looking for "the most bang for the buck" and that other sites will also be considered. There is no deadline for a move yet, he said. Murphy added that if either entity (borough or school district) says no to the idea, there will not be any animosity.
Moving to the former Columbia No. 1 Fire Company building on Front Street was discussed but was frowned upon due to the nearby rail lines with trains that could hinder police response time. A resident expressed disapproval about the possibility of holding cells in the DAC. Lutz said the police department does not need to be in the same building as the borough offices.
Parking concerns for additional personnel at the DAC were discussed. Lutz asked if the borough could lease parking spaces from the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, whose building is nearby.
Lutz said another advantage to consolidating is financial. "What can we do to help the taxpayer?" he asked. He said the project won't move forward without a funding scheme. A resident asked about the costs associated with the move (renovations, etc.) and was told that would be part of a feasibility study. Lutz said the cost of such a study is $10-15,000. Other public meetings will be held before any decision is made, to get citizen input.