Pauley, Robinson counter Mt. Zion cost update


WINNSBORO – Offering an update during Monday night’s county council meeting on the final days of construction of the Mt. Zion administration building, Ed Driggers, assistant to the interim county administrator, set off on a high note. “We’re not seeing anything on the contractor’s schedule that gives us any substantial concern. The schedule is moving along very well for the entire site.

“We expect to see everything finalized by Dec. 21,” Driggers said. “…so then we can start planning to relocate into the building starting in January 2022.”

But after listening to 15 minutes or so of Driggers’ talk of how smoothly the project is going, Councilwoman Shirley Greene wanted to hear something else.

“The question most people have is cost,” Greene said. “Update us on what those cost factors are.”

With that, Driggers was ready with a laundry list of expenses he saw as “surprises” or “misses“ that were made in planning the renovation, some of which he said were significant and costly.

“The $1M escrow account is completely depleted,” he began.

“We have invoices which will take it to zero and then actually deficit what is there, and you will still have expenses that will be associated with the physical move,” Driggers added, “…expenses with the technology issues that we discovered…expenses for furniture, fixtures and equipment…the building can’t communicate with itself to do the business of the county…the parking had to be reduced from the original scope after the civil engineers came in to calculate the amount of storm water that would need to run off the site.   Even today we’re looking at what it costs to get a scoreboard, basketball goals, bleachers in the gymnasium, those types of things.”

But those who were involved in or knowledgeable about the planning of the move to Mt. Zion told The Voice a different story.

Councilman Douglas Pauley said the $1M escrow account was set up by the county specifically for the developer to be able to draw from quickly to pay for certain costs outside the contract, like the 911 upfit and other things, without having to delay work for a vote from council to release funds for those costs.

“It was planned from the beginning that the escrow would be reimbursed for the largest of those expenses – the 911 upfit – from two restricted funds that could be used for no other purpose than 911:  the county’s 911 fund and a tariff fund that is fed by a $1 fee on the county’s phone lines,” Pauley said. “There were no surprises there.

“What is not being said, is that the county’s 911 equipment would have become non-compliant by December and we were going to have to upgrade then whether we moved to Mt. Zion or stayed here.”

Toward the end of his presentation, Driggers alluded to the reimbursement available for these expenses through certain “resources” such as the county’s 911 fund, but did not go into detail. Following the meeting, he confirmed to The Voice that “the county hasn’t used any of that money [911 funds] yet. It’s available,” he said.

Asked if the $1M reimbursement funds in the 911 restricted funds would cover all the extra cost of the 911 center, Driggers said it would.

“Yes, it will cover everything extra – the county’s 911 restricted funds will pay for the actual 911 costs in the new building, then the escrow can be used for the furnishings and other extra costs,” Driggers said. “I think we can transfer from that [911] restrictive account and use those moneys to [reimburse the county] for the 911 upfit. It’s what it’s for. Council will just have to vote to transfer those funds.”

Council chairman Bell wanted to go back to the things that Driggers said were “missed.”

“Are you telling me there are no bleachers in the project at all?” Bell asked incredulously during Driggers’ presentation.

 “No sir,” Driggers said. “There are not. They were not identified in the scope of work of the developer or the general contractor.”

“How can you call it a gym?” Councilman Tim Roseborough asked.

Holding his hands in the air defensively, Driggers said, “I can’t defend it, Sir. We would have assumed that type of equipment necessary to operate a gymnasium, but it was not in the scope of work with your developer or your contractor.”

“But it was never planned for the gym to be equipped up front for basketball games,” Councilman Neil Robinson said. “That upfit would be on the county. We were only paying the developer for construction and to do basic technology like installing wiring, etc. We knew we were going to have space like the gymnasium that would be finished, but not upfitted with equipment right now. That upfit is something that can wait. Our concern was to have an administration building up and running. If Mr. Bell wants to go ahead and upfit the gym, that’s his choice, but the added expense to do that right now, to me, doesn’t seem like a good idea. We are not in need of an upfitted gym right now,” Robinson told The Voice.

 “As for parking being reduced because two retention ponds were needed, that has been known from early on,” Pauley said. “It was no surprise. Adjustments were made and the parking met the town’s code and parking requirements. If this administration wants more parking and wants to spend the money, they can. But parking was adequate and it was not a ‘miss.’”

Pauley said the cost of furnishings, fixtures and equipment, was proposed to be covered in the budget.

“But during a budget workshop, it was Councilman Trapp who shot that down and the majority voted to not provide funds for furnishings, fixtures and equipment,” Pauley said. “It was not a miss in the initial scope of work,” it was a decision made by the majority of council.

“The truth is, everything is fine, the reluctance of the majority leadership on council to continue with the project at one point, caused considerable and costly delays resulting in a few months delay in moving in,” Robinson said. “But as Mr. Driggers said, everything is going along fine and I think all the legitimate costs are going to be well covered.”


  1. Linda Moore says

    Sounds like the details of the contract need to be made public with regard to scope of work.
    How much did it cost the county when the project was delayed? Vote from council
    To cover costs? I thought once a project was approved by council with an agreed
    upon price contractors did not have to seek council approval for expenditures
    approved in the contract.

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