Too little oversight in county construction

info@islandpacket.comApril 4, 2013 

The 2006 local 1 percent sales tax for road projects required a complete cost estimate and schedule to be submitted to Beaufort County Council before construction commenced. My Freedom of Information Act request has produced no such document.

Another problem is the lack of transparency for the public. The county website fails to present actual construction or other costs as compared to projected costs of council-approved plans.

The County Council's responsibility is to establish policy, then ensure it is followed. Some policies on visibility for the public could be developed in the 144 paid meetings council approved for themselves. This would be beneficial instead of so much micro-managing, which keeps senior administrators in meetings instead of managing.

Multiple FOIA requests produced the following cost information.

  • Overspending on road projects:

  • Lady's Island bridge and road widening: $14 million.

    Boundary Street, U.S. 21 widening: $10 million.

    Bluffton Parkway (current estimate): $47 million.

    Five other projects with lesser amounts: $3 million.

    Total overspending: $74 million.

  • Underspending forecast on the road projects:

  • U.S. 278 widening: $11 million.

    U.S. 278 frontage roads: $7 million.

    Total underspending: $18 million.

    Net overspending of actual or forecast costs: $56 million.

    That is how much was spent above the original plan, which was to have a complete cost estimate and schedule presented to the council before beginning work. To date (more than seven years later), the county does not have a schedule or estimates for finishing some of the projects.

    Jim Bequette

    Lady's Island

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