The property behind the County Administration Building is intended to be the future site of a $1.2 million facility for the Water Department.

The Water Board held a called meeting last week to discuss an unexpected delay in plans to build a $1.2 million office building.

On June 28, the County Commission voted to defer until July a resolution authorizing the construction of an 11,000-square foot building on property behind the County Administration building. Commissioners at the time questioned the site selection and even whether such a facility was necessary.

The Commission’s approval is required as the property is deeded in the name of Trousdale County government, despite having been purchased by the Water Department in 2018.

“We’ve had to back up to let the Commission understand what we’re wanting to do. Right now, we’re kinds on hold to give them more time to look at our plans and make a decision,” Water Board Chairman Craig Moreland said. “Putting this off is going to raise the cost of the building.”

Per the contract awarded by the Water Board, the price is guaranteed for 60 days. That period expires on July 24.

At the request of the Water Board, the County Commission will hold a called meeting on Monday, July 19 at 7:30 p.m. to take up the issue. The Commission’s regular July meeting is July 26, after the 60-day deadline.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers said a price increase if the contract is delayed beyond 60 days would be at least $14,820, based on an estimate from the contractor. Chambers cited the rising cost of materials and said that number could easily go higher.

“There’s a possibility of increases past that,” the mayor said.

“It sounds like our hands are pretty much tied…,” added board member Todd Webber.

While each member of the County Commission was invited to attend the meeting and ask questions, only eight of 20 attended and just one, Mary Ann Baker, spoke. As she did at the June Commission meeting, Baker asked why the Commission felt the need to “micromanage” the functions of the Water Board.

“Why would the Board have bought this property if they weren’t going to be able to build on it?” Baker said.

Chambers addressed concerns on whether the proposed building could be expanded, something that was raised previously by some commissioners. The mayor said there was some ability to expand on the site if needed.

He added that moving the Water Department offices into a new building would benefit the county as a whole, noting that the Administration building has already become a tight fit for those already there.

“I’ve had to tell three elected officials we can’t expand right now because there’s nowhere to put them,” Chambers said. “Four or five years and we’ve already outgrown the building.”

Sewer insurance delay: Water Department General Manager Tommy McFarland has announced that there will be a one-month delay in the implementation of a sewer insurance policy, as mentioned in last week’s Vidette.

The sewer insurance will be added to bills beginning Oct. 1, rather than the September date previously mentioned. McFarland said the extra time would better allow the utility to inform customers of the upcoming change. Flyers will be included in upcoming water bills for two months and will describe the policy, which will require customers to opt out.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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