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Government complex 'add-backs' listed

EVANS, Ga. -- Government officials from Thomson, Dearing and McDuffie County recently gathered at Savannah River Rapids Pavilion for their annual retreat. This year, because of budget tightening, the normal day and a half retreat was scaled back to one day and moved from the University of Georgia's Continuing Education to the site in neighboring Columbia County.

One of the first discussions held concerned the new government complex, now being constructed near the intersection of Railroad and Greenway streets in downtown Thomson.

During last Thursday night's Thomson City Council meeting, members voted unanimously to approve a list of what was described as "add-backs" to the building. The McDuffie County Board of Commissioners was expected to have decided on that same list during their meeting Tuesday night.

The list, which was compiled by Jud Bryant, included:

Contingency $2 million;

IT Infrastructure and Fee, use construction funds and restore IT SPLOST -- listed at $500,000;

20 more additional parking spaces at an estimated cost of $80,000. Those spaces will help replace the ones that will be lost on Railroad Street when that area is reworked later this year, according to Don Powers, city administrator.

18 more staff parking at a cost of $52,000;

Add natural gas at a cost of $64,000;

Street lights at a cost of $100,000;

Overhead power lines at a cost of $100,000;

Land acquisition -- set at $896,000.

Additional land acquisition is needed, if officials are to open up Trade Street for traffic flow and viewing of the new government center, once it is completed, Mr. Powers said. The city is expected to apply for more grants through the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Mr. Powers said he believes DOT officials will approve the grants since city officials already have a plan in place that will benefit the city and its people.

During the recent retreat, Mr. Bryant informed government officials and others that the project is nearly three months into the construction phase.

Riley Stamey, who serves as chairman of the Thomson-McDuffie Industrial Development Authority, said at the retreat that other land acquisition had cost $2 million. He explained that the property now needed would tie Trade Street into the property off Main Street that runs through Knox Shopping Center.

The Rev. Fred Favors, who also serves as a county commissioner, voiced concern over spending any more money for land acquisition during the retreat.

"It might be nice for the building to be seen, but we don't need to acquire any more land," the Rev. Favors said. "We promised the people a nice government center and at the end of the day, we're going to have a nice building, which will be a tremendous accomplishment for this community."

Web posted on Thursday, March 18, 2010

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