Public helped fund 'Extreme Makeover' project

City waived other fees for house renovation featured on TV show
The show's host, Ty Pennington, showed the Graham family its home for the first time last week.

Volunteers offered their hands for free to build the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition house in the Belle Terrace neighborhood last week, but the police officers who worked the site were paid with taxpayer money.

Col. Gary Powell, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, said Monday that four deputies were posted 24 hours per day at the site of the production of the ABC television show. Another officer was required to patrol Regency Mall, where volunteers met to be transported to the site, for about 10 hours every day.

The overtime pay for the officers totaled $12,646.

More officers were required for directing traffic during parties and escorting buses around the city. To minimize costs, Powell said on-duty officers were pulled from their cars to do these jobs which didn't typically last very long.

Augusta's zoning and planning office also worked with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to ensure the house met existing codes and required no variances, Planning Director George Patty said.

Augusta's licensing and inspection department waived the $350 fee for a building permit, a $32 demolition fee and approximately $2,180 in fees for various electrical, mechanical and plumbing inspections, director Rob Sherman said.

Mark Johnson, Augusta's solid waste director, said the city also waived landfill fees for all demolition and construction waste and the TV crew's trash, but he didn't know the exact amount waived late Monday.

Augusta Utilities also provided a new sewer tap for the house at no charge, Director Tom Wiedmeier said. The tap fees typically run $750.

The city of Savannah, which experienced an Extreme Makeover earlier this fall, provided almost $26,000 in taxpayer-funded services, according to The Savannah Morning News .

The newspaper reported that most of the costs to Savannah came from overtime pay for police officers.

City of Savannah spokesman Bret Bell said the decision to cooperate with the show was made to help the family and to help publicize the city to the show's 10 million viewers.

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