Mason slams 'suckers' on commission, 'sick and tired' of being licked in TEE Center project

Alvin Mason
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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Feb. 13, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Can you spare an extra $800,000? The Augusta Marriott says the new TEE Center does not quite meet their fire-safety standards. But some commissioners says it's just a bunch of hot air.

The trade center is well underway, and just months away from completion, there are discussions the building may need major upgrades.

"The discussion disgusts me quite frankly," said Commissioner Alvin Mason.

The project does not meet Marriott International standards when it comes to things like air circulation.

"I'm getting real sick and tired of the Marriott calling the shots as it relates to this government," Mason said.

The hotel wants $800,000 to install a fancy circulation system and tackle fire code concerns with the new TEE Center.

"At some point they have got to stop licking on this particular lollipop because there is nothing else left," Mason said.

The building currently meets state standards that call for air changes 2.5 times each hour. The Marriott wants eight air changes per hour. The system would cost more than $300,000.

"If that's what the Marriott wants, then the Marriott should pay for it," Mason said. "It should not come from taxpayer dollars."

Project liaisons say there is one thing to keep in mind.

"I think what we are doing is the correct thing to do," said liaison Butch Gallup. "This is something that was already placed in the budget. It is not exceeding the budget."

Mason is convinced taxpayers could actually save money in the end.

"But as long as they continue to find suckers up here on this commission," Mason said, "they'll continue to lick this lollipop."

The Marriott got the green light at Monday's committee meetings. The real test will come at next week's commission meeting. The Marriott doesn't want to attach its name to a project not up to their standards. The hotel plans to make their case at next week's meeting.