A.G. city staff to move in stages

Arroyo Grande officials will move ahead with plans to move some — but not all — of its staff working in three city buildings in the historic Village to a nearby building city leaders agreed to purchase earlier this year.

The City Council on Tuesday voted 5-0 to spend $50,000 to install fire sprinklers and communications equipment, including phones and computers, in the former Farm Credit building at 300 E. Branch St.

City Manager Steve Adams said he hopes the 16 employees will be moved to their new office space within a month. Doing so will allow the staff in the Community Development Department, who now work in three different buildings, to be housed under one roof.

The remaining 10 employees, including Adams, the city clerk and other administrative positions, will remain in the City Hall building for now.

The council voted in March to move its 26 full- and part-time staff working in the three city buildings in the Village into the Farm Credit building, and to lease City Hall.

But the city does not currently have the estimated $400,000 needed for new construction to accommodate its entire staff in the Farm Credit building — which would need, among other improvements, a $121,000 elevator so that staff could use its second floor.

“My understanding is that all city staff was going to move into the building at one time,” resident Tim Moore told the council on Tuesday. “And now you don’t have the money you said you had to make the improvements.”

Adams said the city has $310,000 budgeted toward improvements. That money was originally budgeted for upgrades to City Hall, before the council decided in March to move all the employees into the former Farm Credit building.

The estimate to make improvements to the building came in higher than the city’s original budget, he said.

The council in February approved an agreement to buy the building from developer Nick Tompkins of NKT Commercial, who in turn purchased two city buildings, the Conrad House at 208 E. Branch St., and 200 E. Branch St., known as the “malt shop,” as well as the parking lot between them. The deal, according to city officials, cost the city $1.2 million.

The city has put out a request to receive proposals to lease City Hall, a 4,400-square-foot building, including a 1,300-square-foot basement, at 214 E. Branch St. The request states that the city seeks to lease it for a 10-year term.

So far, the city has received a few requests for more information, but no proposals, Adams said. The deadline to receive proposals, currently Aug. 24, may be extended.

City officials hope to lease the building as is, and would consider applying credit for any improvements made by a lessee toward the lease payments, Adams said.

An analysis by Cannon, an engineering consulting firm with an office in San Luis Obispo, found a number of structural concerns and recommended building improvements, including replacing the western half of the roof.

The council on Tuesday also directed staff to continue soliciting bids for a digital imaging system that will allow files to be stored electronically, reducing the space needed for hard copies of files.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.