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Space squeeze has Sioux Falls engineers working in basement

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- City engineers in Sioux Falls are working in the dimly lit, tight quarters of the basement of City Hall due to an office space squeeze.

SIOUX FALLS (AP) - City engineers in Sioux Falls are working in the dimly lit, tight quarters of the basement of City Hall due to an office space squeeze.

As many as a dozen city engineers report to work each day in City Hall's sometimes-damp basement. The space was used for years for storage, but desks and cubicles are now set up there.

The basement office is among reasons being used to pitch for a new $22 million city administration building, the Argus Leader reports.

Sue Quanbeck Etten, Sioux Falls central services director, said necessary improvements have been made to City Hall to make sure it remains viable into the future. But even with that, she said engineering staffers are in the basement because there's not room on the second floor.

The added space is being pitched as a way to improve services, prepare for population growth and save money by reducing the need to lease office space. Quanbeck Etten said it's also about providing a better work environment that she said can make government more efficient.

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"Staff turnover is very expensive. There are real costs associated with hiring and training new employees and it's important in today's tight labor market to retain good quality employees," she said. "Having quality work space is essential."

Council member Rick Kiley said if the city doesn't build now, the cost of construction will go up and the city will continue to pay more for leasing offices. Council member Greg Jamison has asked project planners for more financial details and cost comparisons, and said he'd like to see all city departments aside from police, street and fire under one roof.

"I don't think all the opportunities out there have been vetted," he said.

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