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Space needs for probations could be solved before study complete

Rowan County’s space needs study isn’t finished yet, but at least one department could receive its space a bit earlier than others.

The county received a letter on Oct. 31 that described additional space needs for the Probations Office, a division of the N.C. Department of Public Safety that uses county buildings. The letter stated seven new probation officers would need offices in the near future, which county manager Aaron Church said would likely need to be met before the space study is completed.

With the space needs study expected to be completed in January, commissioners are scheduled to consider two options on Monday to provide space for the Probations Office, which currently occupies two buildings. One of its buildings sits adjacent to the magistrate’s office. The other is on the corner of West Kerr Street and North Lee Street. No extra space remains in either building, according to the October letter.

The two options commissioners will consider Monday are to lease space for the seven new officers in a vacant building — named the Schofield building in the agenda — adjacent to the Probations Office on North Lee and West Kerr. The second option is to lease the entire Schofield Building and relocate the 16 probation officers that currently work adjacent to the magistrate’s office.

In a note to commissioners, Church said the Schofield building’s owner would consider a three-year lease, for $11.50 per square foot, if the first option is chosen. The cost to rent just enough space for the new staff would be $8,694, according to state standards. For the second option, the owner would prefer a three-year lease for $9.50 per square foot, for the whole building, according to Church’s note.

In the October letter, Brian Gates, who is responsible for probation and parole in the Third Judicial Division, wrote that option two would be preferable.

Church said the Schofield building’s owner would also consider a one-year lease.

Other items on the Monday agenda include:

• Approving Church to send out a request for proposals for a pay classification study.

The compensation study proposal comes after the Department of Social Services recently requested an across-the-board raise for a portion of its employees. Instead of requesting a raise, DSS is asking commissioners to give its employees a bonus. Before raises are given, Church said he wants to study the county’s pay to ensure no employee groups are left out.

“A county wide study would utilize empirical data to determine if there is a systemic issue with pay and enable the Board of Commissioners to review options to address inequities at one time without leaving out large segments of the employee population,” Church said in a note included in the agenda packet for Monday. “Conducting a sound study includes using a neutral third party to conduct research of comparable agency classes and organizational structures to determine appropriate pay.”

• Considering a sustainability plan for DSS that relates to a Medicaid workload increase.

• Presentation of Rowan County’s fiscal year 2014 audit. The audit was released last week and showed the county had an available fund balance of 19.5 percent. The audit included one finding, which said the county didn’t appropriately replenish its fund balance after purchasing the former Salisbury Mall, now West End Plaza.

• Two items relating to leases at West End Plaza.

The first would allow the county to continue its practice of receiving requests from tenants for mall space, negotiating a price and presenting the lease to the board of commissioners for approval.

The second would allow Church to negotiate rent amount in West End Plaza on a case-by-case basis.

• Consider the approval of a loan proposal to purchase more than 30 vehicles.

The loan would be in the amount of $1.1 million. The loan that staff recommended would result in $16,439.60 in interest, with a term of three years. Vehicles purchased with the loan would include 25 vehicles for the sheriff’s office, three vehicles for Emergency Services, two trucks for facilities maintenance and a van for the library.

• Scheduling a public hearing for Jan. 5, for the proposed Rowan-Salisbury School System central office loan, totaling $6.5 million.

• Setting a date for a commissioners’ retreat.

• Set a quasi-judicial hearing for Jan. 20, regarding a proposed solar energy system on the 12700 block of Statesville Boulevard.

• Set a quasi judicial hearing for Jan. 5, regarding a residential storage facility on the 8600 block of Old Beatty Ford Road.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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