Today marks a new era for New Albany.
After sharing space with Floyd County government for decades, the bulk of the City of New Albany’s offices are moving into a standalone city hall in the former Reisz Furniture building along Main Street. It’s a positive development for the city and Floyd County residents, but it certainly didn’t happen without debate and disagreement.
The New Albany City Council members who voted in 2018 to purchase the once dilapidated property at a cost of $570,000 annually over 15 years were attacked in their re-election campaigns. The expense of purchasing and refurbishing the structure was the main gripe, though in hindsight, it was a wise move.
Floyd County is grappling with what anyone who has stepped foot inside the City-County Building knows. The building is outdated and in extreme need of rehabilitation. Courts need more space and the City-County Building will likely be converted into a justice center in a transition similar to what’s underway in Clark County.
The change means the Floyd County government offices will have to relocate. The county may develop a public/private site at the North Annex property along Grant Line Road, or it could build a new structure alongside the City-County Building. Early estimates put the cost at over $20 million, though nothing is set in stone.
Imagine how much more it would cost if the city was tagging along? To meet space needs, the costs would easily be close to what the city is spending to have its own facility.
And cost isn’t the only issue. New Albany salvaged an eyesore and turned it into a gem – one that will anchor an important block in the city’s downtown. That’s not just good for government, it’s good for business and the community.
It’s also time for New Albany to have its own location, just like Clarksville, Jeffersonville and other local municipalities. The city was paying $200,000 a year for a cramped space in a far from welcoming location. Parking was less than adequate. When taxpayers come to do business, they deserve a place that’s easily accessible.
The city will eventually own the property instead of paying a lease to the New Albany-Floyd County Building Authority. That’s a sound investment of public funds.
Taxpayers should demand that government officials be responsible with their money. The city would have made a financial mistake by staying in the City-County Building. More room was needed, and if the city had stayed, it would still be looking at moving just like the county.
As New Albany City Hall opens today, those who voted in favor of the project should know that they made the right decision.