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Commission authorizes $565,000 construction change at municipal building

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 10:26 PM
Last updated Wednesday, July 2, 2014 4:38 AM
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At a tense called meeting Tuesday, the Augusta Commission authorized $565,000 in change orders to ongoing renovations at the Municipal Building and restarted construction on the building’s eighth and ninth floors.

The changes, an attempt to address issues with the new second-floor layout raised by the city clerk, commissioners and local judges, fund construction of a document vault in a spacious suite designed to house the city law office, where the commission recently voted the commission clerk will move.

They also fund plumbing and renovations in the existing commission area, behind the dais, to create a second bathroom for commissioners and judges, once the space is turned over to senior judges.

Interim City Ad­min­is­trator Tameka Allen said that based on estimates from project manager Heery International, the new vault will cost about $500,000.

“It shouldn’t be on our back,” said Commissioner Marion Williams, a critic of Heery’s role in the project. “Why is there a cost?”

“The approval to do what was done was actually provided,” Allen said. “So Heery nor the contractor did anything that was not approved to be done.”

Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said former City Administrator Fred Russell, whom the commission fired in December, “signed off” on the layout of the clerk and commission area, including a decision to use an existing upper floor vault for document storage.

“I would like to have Forrest’s equation on this as far as the cost,” Guilfoyle asked of Heery lead consultant Forrest White.

“What we’re trying to do is duplicate as close as possible what you have,” White said.

The work includes removing shelving from a space intended as a law library, combining the library with a storage room to make space for the vault, installing fire-resistant drywall and turning off a sprinkler system to avoid damaging documents, he said.

“I also went ahead and … put in a proper file system for records such as this,” White said.

“Is that something the clerk requested?” Guilfoyle asked.

“No, but we need to have them talk to her about that,” White said. “I was trying to capture every eventuality that I could think of.”

While most department heads were closely involved in the design of their offices – city General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie, for example, wrote a letter specifying his department’s need for larger suites and meeting rooms – clerk Lena Bonner said she had yet to meet with Heery regarding plans to modify the legal suite.

“As to the clerk relocating to the space formerly assigned to the law department,” Bonner said, “as far as any renovations or modifications to it, I have not been privileged to look at those.”

“I think he’s going above and beyond to make sure you are satisfied,” Guilfoyle said.

On resuming construction on the eighth and ninth floors, which commissioners suspended when the second-floor issues came up, White said mechanics and electricians might soon quit their jobs if the work is delayed much longer.

“Starting next week we’re going to start losing crews,” he said. “A lot of these people we had to go through a training curve to get them used to working on an existing building.”

Lockett said the commission has no alternative but to pay for the changes.

“Early on, I thought maybe Heery or the architect or someone should be held responsible for it,” Lockett said.

“The more you look into it, you see they did what they were told to do … We did it, we own it, so now there’s no other choice but to pay for it.”

A motion to fund the construction passed 6-3, with Commissioners Mary Davis, Joe Jackson and Williams opposed and Commissioner Alvin Mason absent. Resuming construction on the eighth and ninth floors passed 8-1 with Williams opposed.

The commission also discussed but declined to amend the city’s consolidation act, which specifies that the commission meets “at the courthouse.”

The detail prompted a compromise in 2011 to designate the municipal building as a “courthouse annex” when the new judicial center opened, but has created a new issue as judges want to use the commission chamber as an overflow courtroom, with holding cells, for large trials and to include office space for senior judges, who routinely handle bond and arraignment hearings.

“All we’ve got to do is change the wording in the charter to do away with it?” Guilfoyle asked.

White said he had taken court staff on a tour of court provisions on the second floor “just before we opened up this space” and they were pleased.

Later, Chief Superior Court Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet “got involved, and he wants to start having some jury trials here,” White said.

Once the clerk moves, a conference room will serve as a jury room, and the senior judges can move to the clerk’s former offices, White said.

“We’re going to have to have another restroom back there, no matter what,” Lockett said. “Common sense will tell you you’ve got to do those things.”

Lastly, Allen defended keeping Deputy Finance Director Tim Schroer involved with the construction project, something Lockett said last week needed to stop.

“Yes, he was probably delegated some additional things by the previous administrator, but as I explained to Commissioner Lockett, it would be a disservice to take him from the project, because he has done a great job of trying to keep everything going with this project and making sure that he was the liaison to work with Heery and make sure we did not go past any of our deadlines or our timelines and that we stayed within our budgetary means,” she said.

Lockett later apologized for calling out Schroer for his work on the project.

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nocnoc
45088
Points
nocnoc 07/02/14 - 06:12 am
4
1
Almost Costs More to Update than to Originally Build

The original price of the Marble Palace in 1957 was put at $4.5 Million Dollars.

Adjusted for inflation and stated in 2014 dollars that equaled $37,997,119.56.

http://www.dollartimes.com/inflation/dollars.php

Come on Commissioners you are only $2,002,880.44 short, before the remodeling project will cost more than the original price NEW.

Y'all can do it....
Y'all know how to spend money.

Y'all can just increase Property Taxes and create Rain Taxes get what y'all want to spend.

corgimom
34215
Points
corgimom 07/02/14 - 06:04 am
5
3
For corn's sake, those

For corn's sake, those Commissioners couldn't be counted on to build a Lego building correctly.

INCOMPETENT!

And it just goes on, and on, and on, with no end in sight.

Riverman1
87034
Points
Riverman1 07/02/14 - 07:04 am
8
1
Fault Is With Bonner

I find fault with Lena Bonner for not reviewing the plans and bringing up her needs before construction began.

G'ment Watcher
97
Points
G'ment Watcher 07/02/14 - 07:10 am
7
1
House Calls

While I hate Herry and the way they operate, I can understand why Lena did not have any input. She's never at work and they don't make house calls. As far as the commissioners go, they couldn't understand the plans they approve anymore than a first grader.

Riverman1
87034
Points
Riverman1 07/02/14 - 07:13 am
6
0
Lockett Apology Classy

That was a classy move by Commissioner Bill Lockett to apologize to Schroer. Lockett is a gentleman.

just an opinion
2721
Points
just an opinion 07/02/14 - 07:40 am
9
1
Bonner has been on paid leave for 2 years

Then she comes back and doesn't like her new office and it's now going to cost us a 1/2 million to change it. Why does she get such special treatment ? Surely someone must know. ?

Little Lamb
47011
Points
Little Lamb 07/02/14 - 08:49 am
7
1
Elevators

They're getting new, classy, speedy, and handicap accessible elevators with the remodeling. Lena Bonner is selfish not to accept the existing vault on the upper floor and use the elevator. Instead, she's insisting on a new $500,000 safe on the second floor so she (or her flunkies) won't have to ride the elevator.

That the commissioners cow-tow to her is shameful.

foxsilong
851
Points
foxsilong 07/02/14 - 10:15 am
7
1
wasting people's money

“The approval to do what was done was actually provided,” Allen said. “So Heery nor the contractor did anything that was not approved to be done.”
1/2 million dollar could have been saved had the commission review the plan before approving it. I bet ya, all the commission did was just focusing on the total cost without actually reviewing the blueprint.

“It shouldn't be on our back,” said Commissioner Marion Williams.
No it's not on the Augusta commission's back; it's on all Augusta taxpayers' back. Blaming the contractor for doing what they were told and wasting taxpayer's money is stupid.

dichotomy
34491
Points
dichotomy 07/02/14 - 01:09 pm
8
1
"That was a classy move by

"That was a classy move by Commissioner Bill Lockett to apologize to Schroer."

Lockett wouldn't need to apologize if he wasn't always shooting his mouth off.

Bonner is just one of quite a few "special" employees that are protected even though they continue to screw up and cost the taxpayers money. With the direction things are going with our local government I expect this situation will just get worse. Protecting each other, covering for each other. They are like a comical mini-Obama administration.

And it's NEVER their fault.....it's the guy who ain't here any more's fault. THEY had nothing to do with it the whole time they were spending OUR money. Hell, we could have tore the thing down and built a brand new one for what they have wasted remodeling and then re-remodeling.

"let's get some mo' renvenoo"

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 07/02/14 - 10:37 am
6
1
Seems as if..

….at this rate of spending Al Gray will be proven right and Donnie Smith wrong…told ya.

jimmymac
42949
Points
jimmymac 07/02/14 - 12:43 pm
0
0
RENOVATION
Unpublished

Your tax dollars at work. Wasted as usual.

dichotomy
34491
Points
dichotomy 07/02/14 - 01:17 pm
4
1
Yep.....stay away from ANY

Yep.....stay away from ANY deals with eco-terrorist groups......and ALL of them are eco-terrorists.

They need to do the same process that the Corps just did with the old Little River marina and get a new contractor under a SOLID contract that protects the already overburdened taxpayers from more incompetent commission deals and contracts.

Our commissioners are not capable of organizing a company picnic and they are an easy mark for these environmental terrorist groups and do gooder pseudo health groups who want to outlaw everything that THEY don't use. In all of these situations our commissioners enter a battle of wits totally unarmed.

corgimom
34215
Points
corgimom 07/02/14 - 01:24 pm
2
4
The clerk doesn't just access

The clerk doesn't just access records once in a while, its an integral part of their job. It's all day, every day.

It would comparable to hiring a secretary to work on one floor and put the typewriter, computer, and telephone on another, and expect to get work accomplished.

corgimom
34215
Points
corgimom 07/02/14 - 01:30 pm
3
5
Flipa, cut it out. If you've

Flipa, cut it out.

If you've got proof, go to the police or the FBI. All I see from you is a lot of innuendo. Name names, post dollar amounts, post dates, provide solid proof.

If you have proof, contact Sean Moores, he'll see to it that you are connected to the right person.

But you don't, otherwise you'd say so.

And the part about "hiding the rent checks" is ludicrous, I told you exactly what needed to be done so that could be proven. It wasn't done, because no rent checks were "hidden".

Go look at the new EPA laws THAT NOBODY IN AUGUSTA IS RESPONSIBLE FOR, but MUST BE FOLLOWED.

I know exactly who you are talking about, and so does everybody else, and if you want to accuse somebody of committing felonies and theft, then PROVIDE PROOF.

Sweet son
10752
Points
Sweet son 07/02/14 - 02:07 pm
4
2
Hey corgi,

if the Clerk's Office accesses the records 'all day everyday' then why not move them to where the vault is located. I'm with others and believe all of this fuss about records could be handled by moving the Clerk and staff to where the vault is located. I believe that she is not interested in records but more interested in a new office for herself and staff. These old records don't need a luxurious place and we don't need to make changes because of a whiny woman who must not come to work according to other comments.

corgimom
34215
Points
corgimom 07/02/14 - 02:40 pm
0
5
Those "old records", as you

Those "old records", as you put it, are important legal documents, and it's not about a "luxurious place", it's about storage of records so they don't deteriorate.

By law they are required to keep them and store them appropriately, it's not a whim. And they are accessed far more frequently than you know. A title search alone can go back over 100 years, the same with land involved in a probate case.

flipa1
2222
Points
flipa1 07/02/14 - 03:00 pm
4
1
How do you know what happened in that office?

Corgimom; Were you there? I was. We have recordings.

Little Lamb
47011
Points
Little Lamb 07/02/14 - 06:45 pm
5
0
Overreach

Corgimom posted:

And they are accessed far more frequently than you know. A title search alone can go back over 100 years, the same with land involved in a probate case.

Corgi, Lena Bonner is clerk of commission. The records she handles are the commission meeting minutes, agendas, and mundane requests from other departments. She does not keep the property records nor any records for probate court.

Bonner is overstating her importance and her needs for luxurious office space. An extra $500,000 for a vault on the second floor when there is a perfectly-functioning vault on the eighth floor is an unjustified expense.

But this is Augusta. If we don't have the money, just raise taxes to get it. Anything to mollify diva Lena.

Riverman1
87034
Points
Riverman1 07/02/14 - 07:12 pm
5
0
Only Democrats can have large

Only Democrats can have large offices.

Gage Creed
17874
Points
Gage Creed 07/02/14 - 08:01 pm
5
0
Clerk

I wonder how any work was done in the years the clerk was working from home? I'm guessing that home was a good deal further from the existing vault than the new 2nd floor offices are...

dichotomy
34491
Points
dichotomy 07/02/14 - 08:24 pm
4
0
"Only Democrats can have

"Only Democrats can have large offices."

Well we sure gonna need a lot of large offices. None of them are competent but they all want big offices to match their swollen, self-important heads.

I swear I have never before seen a municipal government filled with so many incompetents that absolutely screw up EVERYTHING they touch. And they don't just WASTE taxpayer money........they BLOW it like it means nothing to them at all. They have NO consideration at all for the taxpayers.

"let's get some mo' revenoo"

Butterman
3682
Points
Butterman 07/03/14 - 08:41 am
0
0
WildWings
Unpublished

I wonder if Mr. WildWings thinks these numbers are "just being made up."

Butterman
3682
Points
Butterman 07/03/14 - 08:41 am
0
0
WildWings
Unpublished

I wonder if Mr. WildWings thinks these numbers are "just being made up."

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