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Broadband project hits temporary snag

Posted: January 15, 2012 - 1:03am

The federally funded project to expand broadband access throughout Columbia County hit a snag recently when bids for work on the latest portion came in far higher than budgeted.

Phase 6 of the project, which includes finishing connections of fiber-optic cable now buried throughout the county and taking the connections inside county buildings, is budgeted at $950,000, said Finance Director Leanne Reece.

Yet two bids on that portion of the project came in at $1.77 million and $2.87 million.

Explaining the difference between the bids and the budget, County Administrator Scott Johnson said officials had “underestimated” the amount of work needed.

“A lot of things have been lumped into that last phase,” Johnson said.

The final portions now will be split between private contractors and rebid. County workers will handle some of the project, Johnson added.

The information was shared during the year’s first meeting of the county’s Management and Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, and rejection of the bids will go to the full commission this week for approval.

Also expected to be debated at that meeting is a proposal from commission Chairman Ron Cross, who wants to ask members of the county’s legislative delegation to place a binding referendum on county ballots for voters to decide whether to limit commissioners to two consecutive terms in office.

“I’m in favor of term limits, though of course I’m not a good example to say,” said Cross, who is serving his third four-year term as the county’s first elected chairman.

If approved by commissioners, enacted by lawmakers and ratified by voters, the proposal would limit commissioners and the chairman to two four-year terms. Any member then would be required to sit out for at least one year before seeking the same office again.

The measure would not apply to members of the school board unless lawmakers included them as part of the referendum. Those offices share the same districts as commissioners.

IN OTHER NEWS

The commission’s Development Services Committee also met Tuesday, forwarding for full commission approval alcohol licenses for Best Bite Pizza, 4017 Columbia Road, Martinez; Mi Rancho, 3112 William Few Parkway, Evans; Yeong’s Pantry, under new ownership at 220 S. Belair Road, Martinez; and, The Corner Store, 3146 Ray Owens Road, Appling.

Planning Director Richard Harmon reported preliminary lot approvals rose to 875 last year from 571 the previous year, while final approvals fell from 880 to 787. The number of rezonings increased from 33 in 2010 to 48 in 2011. Residential building permits fell slightly from 1,101 to 1,088, while commercial permits rose from 15 to 25.

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Comments (2)

ontheridge

Good ole Columbia County

Explaining the difference between the bids and the budget, County Administrator Scott Johnson said officials had “underestimated” the amount of work needed." - well there you have it. The county was only off about 50%. We should be pleased.... as for term limits, best idea Mr. Cross ever had. Get it done Mr. Cross and lunch is on me.

Thanks Kindly
Barry Mathews

Little Lamb

Bait & Switch

This sounds like some home remodeling projects I've contracted out over the years. As you get to the end the contractor all of a sudden reveals some "discovered problems" that push the price up way over the contract price. You're are too far into the project to back out.

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