School officials have spent more than $280,000 on repairs and renovations at the Georgia Regents University president’s home since 2010 without seeking approval from the state Board of Regents, according to documents obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.
Questions about construction work at the state-owned home of GRU President Ricardo Azziz arose last week, when it was revealed that university officials were planning to add at least a $75,000 carport to the existing two-car garage at the 100-year-old house at 920 Milledge Road, know as Twin Gables.
Officials disclosed that the carport project had not been submitted for approval by the Board of Regents as required by policy for all presidents’ homes in the state university system.
Board spokesman John Millsaps said the project would need board approval before moving forward. Millsaps also said the board had not approved any renovation work at Twin Gables in the past several years.
Board policy, adopted in 1991, states, “Any proposed project for improvement of a president’s home, other than routine and necessary maintenance, shall be submitted for review and approval by the Chancellor and the Board of Regents. Any subsequent changes in the scope of the project or budget shall be similarly submitted for review and approval.”
In the past three years at Twin Gables, roofs have been replaced, exterior walls constructed, buildings painted, heating and air systems replaced, and renovations have been made to the interior, according to invoices obtained by The Chronicle through an open-records request.
GRU spokeswoman Christen Carter said the total cost for work, including minor repairs at the property since June 2010, is about $284,000.
How much of this work qualifies as “routine and necessary maintenance” is uncertain.
Carter said those questions would need to be answered by the University System.
“I can’t speak to how these projects would be identified under the policy,” she wrote in an e-mail.
Millsaps said none of the work has been submitted for approval.
At least some of the construction at the property appears beyond routine.
Documents show rooms were constructed on the home’s third floor, which required framing, drywall, electrical, and heating and air work.
Charles Bourne, who served as construction superintendent for the job with Gilbane Construction in 2010, said it was a renovation to make room for the Azziz family.
“We only had a couple of months to get it all done because the new president was coming in,” he said.
Bourne said he recalls that a new bedroom and sitting room were constructed on the third floor, in addition to the floor refinishing and painting that was done on the home’s interior.
He said the renovation gave the 11,000-square-foot home a fifth bedroom.
“As big a home as that is, most of it seems to be entertainment areas,” Bourne said.
Twin Gables is one of only three presidents’ homes still owned and operated by the state university system, Millsaps said. The two others are at the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, he said.
They are unique properties, which is probably why the board has specific policies that apply only to presidents’ homes, he said.
Carter said the carport project, which is subject to revision that could increase the construction budget, is still being considered.
She said university officials plan to seek Board of Regents approval before proceeding.
Millsaps said he couldn’t say whether it would be approved. Nor could he say whether previous construction projects should have been submitted because that is something only the chancellor and the Board of Regents can decide.
“It is a board policy,” he said.