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Commission votes to expand Municipal Building renovation

Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012 9:57 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012 10:37 AM
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The Augusta Commission voted Tuesday to move toward borrowing $21.5 million to renovate the Municipal Building, expanding the scope of the project and its cost, which would total $31.2 million.

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Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver stands in the parking lot at the Municipal Building Wednesday afternoon January 23, 2008.    MICHAEL HOLAHAN/staff   MICHAEL HOLAHAN
MICHAEL HOLAHAN
Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver stands in the parking lot at the Municipal Building Wednesday afternoon January 23, 2008. MICHAEL HOLAHAN/staff

The 9-1 vote was a change in direction from a prior meeting, when City Administrator Fred Russell recommended a modified $22.8 million version of the remodeling plan that targeted only three of the building’s nine floors.

The renovations were originally billed as a $18 million project. Russell said Tuesday that delays from a lawsuit added as much as $2 million to its cost. He and Forrest White, a senior associate for city sales tax project manager Heery International, estimated earlier Tuesday that Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant elevator shafts, required by 2010 changes in the law, were the “big ticket” component of the modified plan, but they couldn’t specify how much a new external elevator tower will cost.

The full plan includes renovations to the building’s nine floors and basement. It will move commission chambers and the mayor’s office to the second floor and the planning and development department to the third floor.

Russell said he will seek a plan from the city’s financial adviser about how to cover the difference with borrowed money, calling it a “back-door G.O.,” or general obligation bond, which would not require voter approval. That means likely having a local development authority, such as the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority, issue the bonds, he said.

The debt, also expected to cover the cost of a new In­for­mation Technology facility, could be repaid through Augusta’s next sales tax referendum. If that didn’t pass, it would cost about $1.2 million annually from city coffers for 30 years to repay, Russell said.

Delaying the project until the next tax referendum would probably cost an additional $2 million, he said.

Supporting the move, Mayor Deke Copenhaver said “short-sighted decisions have cost this government a lot in the long run.”

Commissioner J.R. Hat­ney made the motion to go forward with searching for funding sources. It was seconded by Commissioner Bill Lockett.

“I think now is time to streamline the efficiency of our departments,” Com­mis­sioner Matt Aitken said, alluding to a plan to put most city business in a single location. “It’s time to bite the bullet and make this campus as it should be.”

The one commissioner to vote against the move, Wayne Guilfoyle, questioned recent oversights that led to confusion and questions about other construction projects.

“Where are we going to be a year from now, and are we going to exceed the cost of the judicial center, and what else has been missed?” he said. “I don’t want to get into the same scenario.”

Comments (8) Add comment
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triscuit
2952
Points
triscuit 09/04/12 - 10:59 pm
8
0
All goes back to Procuremrnt.

All goes back to Procuremrnt. Until that nest is cleaned up you can expect continual lawsuits, delays, etc.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 09/04/12 - 11:12 pm
10
0
What am I missing?

So... Fred Russell blames a few-month delay on a $2 million increase, then says, "Oh, yeah, and there was also this little ADA-compliance thingie that added to the cost."

If the new ADA rules went into effect in 2010 (two years ago), then why is it just being discovered now?

Shouldn't the contractor, designer, engineer, someone, anyone have known about this way back then?

Only in Augusta can an $18 million project turn into a $31 million project and everyone say it is progress.

Why not throw a parking deck in for good measure?

IkeT
4
Points
IkeT 09/05/12 - 04:37 am
2
1
He and Forrest White?

Forrest White and he...

Riverman1
81458
Points
Riverman1 09/05/12 - 06:59 am
5
0
Now explain to me again why

Now explain to me again why Heery gets paid for everything we build in this town?

soapy_725
43634
Points
soapy_725 09/05/12 - 07:57 am
1
0
Elevators grandfathered for ADA?
Unpublished

What happened to the grandfathered aspect of ADA? As most every one knows but can do nothing about is that eco-political management in ARC is beyond ignorance. It is clearly fraud, malfeasance in office, mail fraud, violation of public trust, etc. Criminal activity at the highest levels of county government. And guess who will determine if the structure is "code compliant".

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 09/05/12 - 09:43 am
6
0
Now explain to me again why

Now explain to me again why when Heery screws up and doesn't know the latest ADA requirements that it is the taxpayer who pays and not Heery.

Hey, contractors, want to win a bid in Augusta?

Bid really low, then jack the price up and make the city pay for it. Trust me, they won't question it. They will just pay because it's not their money.

Would Joe Bowles act the same way if this was his house was being remodeled?

soapy_725
43634
Points
soapy_725 09/05/12 - 10:25 am
0
1
It is a different world
Unpublished

when you take your seat on the ARC commission. There you have a fiduciary obligation to those who elected you to office. Lies become truth and half lies become routine conversation. Fred read it and said it was kosher. Fred told the city attorney it was okay. Do we hear a motion? Do we hear a second? Motion is approved. After all, it someone else's money, Ha Ha Ha.

soapy_725
43634
Points
soapy_725 09/05/12 - 10:30 am
0
1
P.T. Barnum was surely
Unpublished

a resident of Augusta at some time. Most likely near the University Hospital. The man had great incite. Hence his favorite quote. " There is a sucker born every minute."

Sweet son
9986
Points
Sweet son 09/05/12 - 11:35 am
3
0
Thanks Wayne............

for not voting with the rest of these hoodlums!

CryoCyberTronics
392
Points
CryoCyberTronics 09/05/12 - 12:53 pm
0
1
City Hall should always be a top priority 

This project would have made a good SOST referendum. If it had been put on a SOST referendum  it would have made Columbia County  jealous and envious .

Little Lamb
44947
Points
Little Lamb 09/05/12 - 01:01 pm
4
0
Not their money

From the first paragraph:

. . . expanding the scope of the project and its cost, which would total $31.2 million.

And from the third paragraph:

Heery International . . . couldn’t specify how much a new external elevator tower will cost.

How can these commissioners approve a $31.2 million project when they don't have a clue how much the total will be? It's irresponsible.

dichotomy
31697
Points
dichotomy 09/05/12 - 05:20 pm
3
0
Commissioner Guilfoyle.....I

Commissioner Guilfoyle.....I acknowledge and appreciate you voting against this irresponsible, unwise.....and, what should be illega,l move to float a "backdoor General Obligation bond" to pull the administrator and the Procurement Office's feet out of the fire on this BOTCHED PROJECT.

Our downtown clowns cannot even get a decent estimate of the costs. Who in the world trusts these people to figure out how to pay for their inept and poorly thought out renovation project.

"If that didn’t pass, it would cost about $1.2 million annually from city coffers for 30 years to repay, Russell said."

Here's is a clue Russell. I will be voting against the next sales tax referendum JUST BECAUSE OF STUPID THINGS LIKE THIS. How can an $18 million dollar project turn into a $36 million dollar project and what idiot would believe it can be blamed on a few months of delay due to a lawsuit.

Our administrator, our Procurment Office, our commissioners, and our "full steam ahead" Mayor are not competent enough to manage OUR MONEY. They have already blown all of the legal money so now they endorse something they call a "backdoor General Obligation bond" to cover a project that they have screwed up from day one. Why not....it's not themselves they are obligating to pay for their BOTCHED project......IT'S YOU, the taxPAYERS.

This is the kind of thing that happens when you give incompetent politicians TOO MANY POTS OF SALES TAX MONEY TO PLAY WITH.

If you think this is bad, and it is so bad it is virtually unbelievable, JUST WAIT until you see the mess that regional crew makes out of the road projects that come out of the boat load of TSPLOST money our highly uninformed and easily fooled districts approved.

Seems like some people just enjoy feeding the pigs. I guess we might as well. Apparently if we don't feed them enough they will break in through the "backdoor" and take it anyway. Our clowns are going to break us financially. We need to start making some serious changes to our local politicians and our administrators. And I mean change them out for some new ones.

blues550
368
Points
blues550 09/05/12 - 07:17 pm
0
1
The String
Unpublished

How can one government body continue to screw up so badly. The gang that can't shoot straight.

Sweet son
9986
Points
Sweet son 09/05/12 - 07:47 pm
0
0
And ADA has been around................

forever! So why in the hell are we even talking about ADA! 2010 ADA changes; have any of the so called engineers looked at the calendar! Why don't we all just withhold our property tax payments so that these numwits won't have more money to waste! Incredible irresponsibility!

Little Lamb
44947
Points
Little Lamb 09/05/12 - 10:29 pm
2
0
Back Door

From the story:

City Administrator Fred Russell said he will seek a plan from the city’s financial adviser about how to cover the difference with borrowed money, calling it a “back-door . . . general obligation bond,” which would not require voter approval.

I watched a Law and Order – SVU rerun last night on USA network. The crime centered around "back door" sex. Of course, I didn't know what they were talking about, but it might be similar to Administrator Russell's "back door" general obligation bond.

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