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Report breaks down cost sharing
Operating expenses of new building divided according to need

A joint committee has proposed having McDuffie County pay 81.5 percent of the cost of operating the new administration and courts building, with the city of Thomson paying the remaining 18.5 percent.

The estimated combined annual operating cost is just under $591,000. Even those who compiled that estimate concede that it probably is a high guess and will need to be adjusted after the first year.

That breaks down to about $40,000 a month for the county and $9,000 a month for the city.

The formula is based on the square-footage needs of the two governments.

The cost-sharing committee's report is based on understandings reached earlier in the planning and construction process. Basically, each government is responsible for the actual space needed for its unique operations. The expense of maintaining common areas is divided evenly.

The county's share is higher because the county alone is responsible for the courts' function in the new building.

The joint committee received a detailed report Feb. 24. An outline was presented to county commissioners in their work session Monday evening, with any action on hold until their action session Wednesday morning.

The city council will receive the information at 6:30 p.m. March 10.

In his briefing to the joint panel last week, program manager Judson Bryant of Bryant Associates said he worked with City Administrator Don Powers and County Manager Don Norton to analyze the use of the new building.

Other members of that joint committee are Thomson City Council members Bernice Brown and Jaye Jones and McDuffie County Commissioners Fred Favors and Paul McCorkle.

Mr. Bryant said there must be "a day of reckoning" at the end of the first year.

He reiterated that Monday, saying the insurance estimate in particular seemed high.

He asked commissioners to use the estimates for budgeting purposes.

Any money left after the first year could be carried forward while the estimates are reviewed, he said.

Mr. Bryant said even the actual distribution of space might change.

"If the city comes in and says, 'We need 10,000 square feet more,' the square footages will be changed and the percentages will be changed," he said.

The expense of outdoor lighting is an exception to the sharing formula.

The city would pay the entire cost of street lighting. Site lighting would be divided evenly. Grounds maintenance costs would be divided 50/50.

In his Monday evening update, Mr. Bryant said the project is 6 percent to 7 percent incomplete.

Officials hope a March 11 inspection by the State Fire Marshal's Office will open the way to at least a temporary occupancy permit.

Project leaders have said they hope to begin moving some employees into their new quarters by May.

On another matter, Mr. Bryant said money collected for the project needs to be spent on that building or on related projects, such as improvements to the present courthouse building.

He quoted an opinion from bond counsel at Smith, Gambrel and Russell.

The reserve and contingency funds might have as much as $1 million remaining after the new building is complete.

Mr. Bryant said that would create "an opportunity and an obligation" to spend that money. Mr. Norton said a fiber optic connection between the administration and courts building and the law enforcement center would be a good investment.

He estimated the cost at $100,000.

Web posted on Thursday, March 03, 2011

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