Scaling Back Augusta Municipal Building Renovations Would Delay - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Scaling Back Augusta Municipal Building Renovations Would Delay New IT Building

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Augusta, GA -

Augusta's Information and Technology Department officials showed us around their offices, and they say a new building is a step they would like to see the city make...especially for the department's 40+ workers who are crammed into these 60-year-old outdated structures.

"And I give them credit for working under these conditions they've done a tremendous job, they don't complain, the goal is for us to work together and do whatever we can," says Information and Technology director and Deputy City Administrator Tameka Allen.

Augusta Commissioners are debating issuing $25 million in bonds to renovate the Augusta Municipal Building, and to pay for a new $7 million IT building.

The bond issue proposal has created a whirlwind of controversy, because to issue the bonds the city proposes calling nearly 600 acres downtown a "slum area", and the city is banking on voters approving the next phase of the sales tax to get the money to pay off the bonds.

And that uncertainty is troubling for some Commissioners, who are having second thoughts on moving forward now with the IT building.

"Let's finish some of the projects we've got, make sure there are Oh Oh's  in that direction, then we can see that's next as we pay off some of this debt," says Commissioner Grady Smith.

Putting off the IT building would cut the city's bond costs by $7 million, but it leaves the department in an office that is scatted over three different buildings.

There are not enough bathrooms...men and women are forced to share, and even with all the high tech gear, there's a worry about water leaks.

"If a pipe bursts upstairs and this is a very old building here then we get leakage, so we have problems with the floors and walls," says deputy IT Department director Mike Blanchard.

Another concern is holding on to the city tech workers if a new IT building is delayed.

"Once those renovations are done, right next door, and the conditions they are currently working in as well as being split in different areas, will cause a concern with a morale problem," says Allen.

"I would like it if we had a new building, I think it would be an unfortunate situation if we did not," added Blanchard.

City finance officials repeat what they told Commissioners in March, that doing all the projects at once, instead of in phases, will lower construction costs, but the final decision on what direction the city goes will be up to six Commissioners.

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