RACINE — Newly sworn-in U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., is looking to lease space in the Racine County Courthouse for a local office.
If approved by the full County Board on Jan. 22, Steil’s Racine Constituent Services Center would be able to move into a small office on the first floor of the courthouse. It is expected to open Feb. 1, if not earlier.
“Providing excellent constituent services for the people of the 1st District is a top priority for me,” Steil said in a statement. “The courthouse is an accessible and convenient location for us to provide assistance to the citizens of Racine, and I thank the County Board and County Executive (Jonathan Delagrave) for considering this lease.”
‘Teeny, tiny office’
The County Board’s Public Works, Parks and Facilities Committee on Tuesday unanimously recommended approval of a resolution that would provide a two-year lease for a 95-square-foot office at a monthly price of $325 paid by Steil’s office to Racine County. The Constituent Services Center is expected to keep the same hours as the courthouse, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
“It’s a teeny, tiny office,” said MT Boyle, the county executive’s chief of staff.
Boyle said that at least one Steil staffer will get after-hour access to the courthouse, but constituents would only be able to visit the office during normal courthouse hours.
In addition to his Washington, D.C., office and the Racine Constituent Services Center, Steil is establishing offices in his hometown of Janesville and in Kenosha County.
“A critical part of my role is providing reliable and accessible constituent services for those in our community,” Steil said. “I am dedicated to providing the best constituent services possible for those in the 1st District. With offices throughout southeast Wisconsin, I am ready and able to assist in any way I can.”
Boyle said that Steil’s staff contacted her and Delagrave in December about potentially leasing space from the county. Boyle added that leasing space in Burlington and at the Ives Grove Office Complex, 14200 Washington Ave., Yorkville, were considered but Steil’s office and county officials agreed the courthouse would be the best spot.
“We view this … as a great partnership,” Boyle said. “It’s like a one-stop shop for government.”
County Board Vice Chairman David Cooke of Racine said that the $325 a month is “very competitive” for a space that small when compared to leasing from private entities.
Prepping the office won’t cost much, Boyle said. A new door, costing about $500, will be affixed to the office. The necessary electrical outlets and Wi-Fi are already in place, she said.
Former courthouse leasers
It’s not unprecedented for the county to rent out space to elected officials.
Cathy Stepp, a former state senator, rented space on the second floor of the courthouse from 2003-2011.
Former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann, who represented the 1st District from 1995-1999, rented out the very same office Steil is planning to move into, Boyle said.
“The courthouse is an accessible and convenient location for us to provide assistance to the citizens of Racine, and I thank the County Board and County Executive (Jonathan Delagrave) for considering this lease.” U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis.