Riviera to move HR department,
ease space crunch

RIVIERA BEACH The human resources department will move to an office building about a mile from City Hall in an effort to ease a space crunch at the 29-year-old complex.

City Manger Bill Wilkins proposed the move, which had been in the works before the March election, and the city council approved it Wednesday night. Some council members said they wanted more space at City Hall to meet with constituents and those seeking to do business with the city.

 

The move was approved 4-1, with Councilwoman Norma Duncombe dissenting. Duncombe wanted Wilkins to come up with a more long-term solution instead of the temporary move to the Port Center.

Councilman Cedrick Thomas agreed with Duncombe, but understood that the space crunch required immediate attention.

Thomas supported the move despite concerns about moving the human resources department away from City Hall.

"It is embarrassing not to have work space," said Thomas, who shares a single desk with his colleagues.

Under Wilkins' proposal, human resources will move to the Port Center, 2051 Martin Luther King Blvd. Several city departments, including code enforcement, special events and police detectives, are headquartered there.

The city will lease 2,200 square feet for human resources for three years at a cost of $151,800.

It will cost another $70,000 to relocate the office and buy new computers and equipment, bringing the total to $221,800.

The city hired a consultant company this year to review the city's space needs. The company is expected to issue its report in two weeks, Wilkins said.

The city has set aside $9 million to build a new public safety building, which will house new council chambers and office space. The study will determine whether to keep the current police station or raze it to make way for a new building.

Other offices such as public works, the library, finance, the city clerk and the city manager's office are housed at the municipal complex at 600 West Blue Heron Blvd.

The complex was built in 1978.

"We would like to keep the campus concept because people can come here and get all their business taken care of," Wilkins said.
 

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Riviera seeks solution for cramped City Hall

RIVIERA BEACH When city council chairman Shelby Lowe was elected in March, he had no idea that the five-member board would have to share one desk.

The conditions aren't conducive to a city trying to serve its constituency or negotiate with high-profile developers, Lowe said.

"I was surprised at how past councils functioned with such a limited amount of space," Lowe said. "Our accommodations are meager."

To free up space, City Manager Bill Wilkins proposes moving the human resources department out of City Hall to an office building a mile away. Human resources would join the city's drug court, code enforcement, special events coordinator, police detectives and training staff already housed at the Port Center, 2051 Martin Luther King Blvd.

The council will vote Wednesday on whether to lease 2,200 square feet from the Port Center in order to move human resources, which also needs more room. The three-year lease costs $151,800; another $80,100 must be spent for office relocation, new furniture, phones and computers, bringing the total cost to $231,900.

"There is no testing area for HR. There is no meeting area for HR to conduct interviews or talk to employees in a confidential basis," Wilkins said. "They're cramped down there."

The council used to have an office next to its second-floor chambers. However, when the city began broadcasting council meetings a few years ago, it created a television department, which took over the board's office.

The mayor's office is also housed on the second floor along with two staff members who comprise the city's legislative office, Wilkins said. The legislative staff, which provides support to the mayor and council, will move to the first-floor office being vacated by human resources, Wilkins said.

The lack of space also means that council members have to carry books, paperwork and other important documents to and from their homes.

After a little more than three months in office, Lowe said the amount of paperwork is voluminous.

"We're having to lug all this stuff home, and I'm running out of space," Lowe said. "I feel it is inadequate for the level of business that we're conducting as council members."

Councilwoman Norma Duncombe understands that the job entails a lot of paperwork. But she opposes spending tax dollars to create an office for council members.

"If you can't find a spot in your home, something is wrong with that," Duncombe said. "It's not a full-time job."

Some residents don't support the decision to move human resources.

The Rev. Herman McCray, a former public works superintendent and community activist, said the department is too vital to city workers and the public to be moved away from Riviera Beach's central operations.

McCray, who was instrumental in ousting an incumbent mayor and three council members in March, called the move unwise and one that could complicate personnel matters.

The move is a temporary fix to long-standing problem, Wilkins said. The city has hired a consultant to study its space needs and determine how to expand City Hall.

Riviera Beach officials are functioning in a 30-year-old municipal complex that the city has outgrown, Wilkins said. Nearly every department is over capacity and desperately needs some form of renovation, he said.

The long-term goal is to construct a new public safety building, which also would house a new council chambers, Wilkins said. The city has set aside about $9 million to go toward the design and construction of the future building, Wilkins said.

"The study is going to address how we mix and match the space that we have," Wilkins said. "It's also going to examine the current police building and whether we have to gut it or tear it down and build another building."