For the past several months, construction crews have been hard at work on the city’s $40 million in renovations and additions to the Augusta Municipal Building.
Departments throughout the county are either preparing to move to a new location or have already been shifted around several times during the construction phase.
But somehow during the planning of where to locate each department, a valuable portion of the procurement office was left without a home.
Procurement Director Geri Sams went before the Augusta Commission this week to explain that a new location for Augusta’s print shop had not yet been found.
The time has come for that “undetermined” to be resolved because the print shop requires 1,500 square feet to store all of the materials and equipment, Sams said.
“Today, I want to give you three options,” Sams said. “One option would be to place the print shop on the sixth floor where the current location is for the DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) office and move her office to the area where the Equal Employment Opportunity office is going because the EEO office will be relocated to the library.”
But that was not the option Sams preferred for the print shop.
“The second option would be to leave the print shop where it is,” Sams said. “But that would be too cost prohibitive because half of that building, as you well know, will be gone due to the renovations.”
Sams was concerned the current location would no longer accommodate the equipment.
Therefore, she discussed a third option with Interim City Administrator Tameka Allen, along with the project manager and architect of the municipal building’s renovations.
“We came up with a third location that I thought, ‘Wow. This is ideal. I don’t know why it has taken three years to get there,’” Sams sid. “And that was to place the print shop in the basement of this building. It would be more cost effective and we would have enough room for storage.”
Sams told the commission that she discussed the proposal with Facilities Director Robert Levine, who currently uses the basement to store some of his equipment. Levine said he would check to see if the department could make space for the print shop.
“The reason why I feel that this location would be a great location for the print shop is that we won’t have any issues as it relates to the weight of the equipment,” Sams said. “It would be an area that would afford us additional storage for materials that the print shop would be using. And I think that would be a good location and we can take that question mark, as to where would the print shop be located, away.”
While discussing the new location with the commission, Sams pointed out that in 2011, several commissioners debated the value of the print shop. They questioned whether the service could be done cheaper if it was outsourced.
Sams argued that the print shop was saving the city about $180,000 a year over using a private company.
“We average between 2 to 8 cents for copies, while most of our copies are 2 to 3 cents,” Sams said.
The reason the department can print copies so cheaply is because the bid the city made for the copy machines doesn’t require the city to pay for toner cartridges. “
“We are saving an average of $80,000 on printing alone,” Sams said. “And a total savings of about $378,000 a year in toner cartridges.”
The entire cost of the print shop operations is about $226,590 a year, Sams said.
“The print shop is also responsible for mail service and that is saving you about $65,000 a year doing bulk mail,” Sams said.
Therefore, she strongly encouraged the commission to support her recommendation to move the print shop to the basement of the Municipal Building.
“I see no reason why a question mark was placed about where we are going to locate the print shop,” Sams said.
Commissioners agreed to consider Sams’ proposal and to check to see if the basement location would be feasible for all the parties involved.
“I think it is our first choice for the print shop,” Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson said. “It kind of keeps it out of the way of everything else.”
In other news, the Augusta Commission failed to support a motion by Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams to ask the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office to do “a preliminary investigation” into allegations that former City Administrator Fred Russell may have deleted files from his computer’s hard drive.
The vote was 4-3 with commissioners Alvin Mason, Bill Fennoy, Williams and Johnson supporting the motion. Commissioners Wayne Guilfoyle, Grady Smith and Bill Lockett voted against it.
Commissioners Mary Davis, Donnie Smith and Joe Jackson were not present for the vote.
But Williams vowed not to let the matter go and requested the agenda item be discussed during next week’s commission meeting.