The Rockville City County, after studying the issue for 10 years, moved a step closer this week to a plan to expand the city hall.
At a meeting Monday, the council voted to award a design contract for the proposed $1.4 million addition.
Assistant City Manager Daniel G. Hobbs said the design would be available in about five months, with groundbreaking for the building possible by next summer.
The $75,000 design contract went to the Springfield, Va., architectural firm of Ward & Hall & Associates.
The present city hall at Maryland Avenue and Vinson Street was built in 1962 to house about 62 employes. Now, 101 employes work there and 190 other city workers are scattered throughout the city in six locations, according to a fact city fact sheet.
The city hall expansion would allow all city employes to work under one roof, would streamline services to residents and would increase government efficiency, Hobbs said.
Residents coming to city hall for service are now rerouted to one of several locations, causing delays and frustrations, Hobbs added.
Consolidation would "provide one-stop service and a more efficient government," he explained.
Hobbs added that studies show the city stands to save a considerable sum by constructing the 27,175-square-foot addition instead of continuing to rent.
Rockville Mayor William E. Hanna Jr. acknowledged the difficult decision to commit large sums of funds during a time when many taxpayers want to trim government spending. But he stressed that the project was "absolutely needed and really overdue."
The addition to city hall is part of a plan being developed to revitalize the Rockville business district.
In other council business, Hanna announced that the city will again vie for top honors in the National Municipal League's All-American City Award. It was recently named one of 20 finalists from a field of 400 for this year's award.
Rockville won the designation as an All-American City in 1976-1977, 1961 and 1954. If it wins for the fourth time, it will be the first city to do so in the 30-year history of the competition.
"This is not just a city where people come home to sleep," Hanna said. "It is a place where citizens get involved, enjoy services and work with government for positive goals."
Rockville, with a population of about 48,000 is the secondlargest city in Maryland. The first is Baltimore.