Warner Robins RDA board approves additional LEC expenses

chwright@macon.comJanuary 14, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- The Redevelopment Agency board approved on Monday expenses associated with the new law enforcement center and a failed attempt to establish a special tax district.

In two separate votes, the board unanimously approved an additional $98,111 to be spent on the law enforcement center, which is under construction at Watson Boulevard and Armed Forces Boulevard.

One vote was for add-ons to existing allotments for the project. The new expense included automated blinds, more outlets in the building’s conference room and an additional $35,000 for landscaping on top of the previously-approved $25,000 budget.

The second vote approved a $30,000 recording system for the police headquarters.

It’s not the first time unexpected expenses arose in the project, but Vice Chairman Doug Hayes and Executive Director Gary Lee said they’re not concerned about going over budget.

“This is a very high-tech building we’re doing,” Lee said. “That’s what they needed. That’s what they requested.”

The allocations from the 2006 and 2012 special purpose local option sales taxes give the entire project, furniture and all, a budget of $9.6 million.

According to a project expense report dated Nov. 13, $5.4 million already has been spent, and $3.7 million is expected to be spent in architect and construction fees and interest on a loan approved for the project. Once those outstanding expenses are spent, there will be $485,000 remaining.

The funds approved Monday were not part of the expense report and neither were funds for furniture and specialty filing and storage equipment that were recently put out for bids. The supplier of those items will be decided in late January.

Lee and Councilwoman Carolyn Robbins said some expenses could be paid for through a different fund if mayor and council approve it.

Mark Greenfield, of International City Builders, said there were construction delays in December due to rain, but the company hopes to make up those days in January.

He said the building will be finished by the end of January, and the interior will be finished in February. A grand opening has not been set.

Also Monday, the board unanimously approved $33,000 be paid to Seyfarth Shaw LLP, the law firm that worked last year to establish a tax allocation district in Warner Robins.

Lee said the funds will be pulled from the city attorney’s line item for professional services.

The RDA previously paid from its own budget $10,000 to the Middle Georgia Regional Commission for its work on the TAD attempt.

The bid for the TAD, which would have allowed the city to use increased property tax revenue for redevelopment efforts on the city’s east side, fell apart in December when the Houston County school board declined to join the effort. The county followed suit. School board members and county commissioners said they weren’t presented the information in enough time to make a sound decision.

Lee has said the city will attempt to make the Dec. 31 deadline for the TAD to be established in 2014.

Also at the meeting, Lee introduced two consultants who will help the city get a possible Transportation Enhancement grant, which is a federal reimbursement program, for streetscaping along Watson Boulevard.

He also asked the board for permission to negotiate a short-term lease with the owner of Martin’s BBQ to use a Commercial Circle building for a franchise chicken restaurant. The board approved the negotiation but will need to approve the lease once it’s ready.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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