Cost estimates to remodel a building into the new Franklin County Health Department have come in higher than expected.

Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said Cochran Engineering, which is doing the architectural design for the project, has developed an estimate of about $515,000.

That is about $100,000 more than what the county thought it was going to cost, Griesheimer said.

Health department officials met with Griesheimer and the other two commissioners last Friday on the project.

Griesheimer said he hopes the project can be modified to bring the cost down to what it was originally expected.

The county’s facilities director is reviewing the plans to see what changes could be made, Griesheimer said.

Griesheimer noted that the county expects to save some money on the project by using leftover floor tiles from the county government building project.

He hopes work on the new health department can start in June and that the county can go out for construction bids in a few weeks.

The competitive bidding market with contractors looking for work will hopefully work in the county’s favor, too, Griesheimer said.

The project will involve remodeling the former Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office into the health department.

The current health department, located in downtown Union, is cramped, Griesheimer said. The health department has been in the building since 1991.

The new facility will be about 1,200 feet larger.

The former prosecuting attorney’s office, which also is in downtown Union, has already been gutted in preparation of the project.

Another advantage of using the former prosecuting attorney’s office is that it is owned by the county as opposed to the current health department building, which the county rents for $1,600 a month.

The cost of remodeling the building will eventually pay for itself in saved rent, Griesheimer said, noting that the new building should serve the county agency’s needs for many years.