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Drive-thru construction begins at Trustee's office
Trustee drive-thru2.jpg

Construction of a drive-thru at the office of Warren County Trustee has begun. A second chance at a cost savings has been dashed.

“Last year, we had $80,000 budgeted for building improvements, the drive-thru at the Trustee’s office,” said County Finance director Justin Cotten. “At the end of the year, we had $15,000 unencumbered or unspent. We didn’t budget for it. We thought we wouldn’t need it and we could just let it go.”

Requested of Budget and Finance Committee members was a transfer of that $15,000 back into the budget.

Cotten says county maintenance employee Greg Bowdoin cannot perform the electrical work in-house. 

“There are some wiring issues Greg is uncomfortable handling. That’s my understanding of the situation,” said Cotton. “We need to contract out some electrician work. My thought was that we had $15,000 of the $80,000 that we didn’t spend so we could go ahead and re-appropriate that. Once the project is closed, if it’s not spent, we can roll it back out.”

Commissioner Scott Rubley asked an estimate on cost. However, said Cotten, quotes have yet to be requested. Cotten relayed that Bowdoin, “doesn’t expect it to be more than $15,000. This should be it, until we address the front of the building. The sidewalk. That will be an additional expense. It was never part of this project to begin with.”

As for the sidewalk, Building and Grounds Committee members voted to modify the front parking lot of Warren County Administrative Offices. Proposed was removing landscaping, reconfiguring the parking spaces, and adding a sidewalk in order to improve pedestrian safety. 

“What’s so unfortunate is that everyone who comes to visit this building is walking right in the middle of the road. That’s a huge danger and liability,” said Commissioner Robert Hennessee during the Building and Grounds Committee meeting. 

That change has been discussed for the last couple of years. 

With the construction of a drive-thru and that generating additional pass-thru traffic, Building and Grounds Committee consideration has turned to adding a sidewalk along that side of the building for pedestrians walking from the side or back parking lots to the front of the building.

The actual cost to reconfigure the front parking lot and add sidewalks is unknown. However, the drive-thru system cost is known. Its original budget of $40,000 was doubled to $80,000. 

“I know we had some things that we were going to do in-house and couldn’t and that bumped the price up, but this thing keeps going and going,” said Rubley. 

Commissioner Tommy Savage made a motion to approve the transfer of $15,000. 

“Is there a second to the motion?” asked Rubley

When none came, Rubley provided it and stated, “At the end of the day, we’ve started this project and we need to complete it. It’s turning into a typical government project. It just keeps increasing and increasing.”

Savage agreed, “In the end, it will cost more than we thought it would. However, it will be an asset to a lot of people. A lot of senior citizens and disabled people. We can’t stop now.”

The $15,000 transfer needed to continue the project has received unanimous approval from the full Warren County Commission.