Richland County, SC (WLTX) - Richland County Council member Jim Manning said it's an issue that council has wrestled with, but at Tuesday's meeting the group authorized $1,246,785 for renovations to the council chambers.
"We might as well bite the bullet and do the whole package," Manning said. "Some of the things we could live without, but the expense of putting in the new technology, some of the moving that's going to need to be done of the desks, so that it's ADA compliant, it just appeared to me to make the motion."
The motion passed nine to three with council members Greg Pearce, Seth Rose, and Bill Malinowski opposing the decision.
"We have a lot more pressing needs than a seven figure renovation of county council chambers. It's as simple as that," Rose said. "There's a lot of essential services that need to have budget increases."
Rose also said that he doesn't believe the project was properly bid out. Council staff reported that they received two bids for the project and recommended that council authorize the contract with Solid Structures. Roughly $828,000 will go to the base of the bid. $235,000 will go to audio and visual improvements. $60,000 was allotted for furniture. $10,000 was budgeted for signage. And $113,344 is set for contingencies.
"We've had a lot of problems with the heating and the air conditioning. When we go back into executive session there's very little room back there for us to have people come in and do presentations," Manning said.
Manning also said the main purpose for the renovations is to make the chambers completely accessible for those will disabilities. Other improvements include a new layout with 30 inch deep work surfaces, additional room for council members and staff, space to lay out food and beverages, two private ADA accessible restrooms, seating capacity for 120-150 people, three large monitors for viewing agendas and presentations, the ability to utilize electronic voting, new LED lighting, an overhaul of HVAC diffusers and electrical system, new millwork "creating a more executive feel to the space", and new furniture.
The renovations are set to start in August.