$40M face-lift coming to marble palace

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News 12 First at Five / Monday, April 22, 2013

Augusta municipal building (WRDW-TV)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The Richmond County municipal building is getting a $40 million face-lift. The groundbreaking happened Monday morning.

The Utilities Department isn't a part of that move. Commissioners also denied their request to move into the old library.

Commissioners were throwing dirt to celebrate the start of the renovations.

Augusta Utilities Department Executive Director Tom Wiedmeier is looking for a new spot for business.

"We are moving out of the municipal building. We're hoping to buy the building on Laney Walker. It's the same office where you get your tags renewed," Wiedmeier said.

His office was left out of the upgrades. He wants to move into the old library on Greene Street. It costs taxpayers $15,000 a month to rent this office space.

"This is a two-part process. We want a new location for our downtown service center. We also want approval to move into the old library," Wiedmeier said.

"I don't have to like it. We have too many other concerns," said Commissioner Bill Fennoy.

He is the only commissioner who voted against the $40 million in renovations.

"We still have too many abandoned houses. We have too many streets that need paved," Fennoy said.

The money will be used toward the elevator system, more handicap access and changing the entrance of the building. This almost creates a one-stop shop.

"We are trying to add in the Tax Assessor's Office, Board of Elections and utilities," said Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson.

City leaders say while Monday market a start for fixing one problem, there are still more to go.

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