Commissioners OK courthouse improvements

Published 12:17 pm Thursday, December 16, 2010

Contributing Writer

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved a plan to remodel four judges’ offices in the county courthouse and buy a new truck for animal-control operations.
After the vote, which almost depletes the county’s contingency fund, the commissioners unanimously voted to freeze all capital projects costing more than $5,000 to preserve the county’s savings.
During the called meeting, commissioners heard a report on a request from Superior Court Judge Wayland J. Sermons and District Court Judge Michael Paul for renovations to the courthouse, estimated to cost $35,247, County Manager Paul Spruill told the board.
The plan creates additional offices for Sermons and his administrative assistant and Judge Regina Parker. It also includes expenses for furniture for the three new offices and the office of newly- elected District Court Judge Darrell B. Cayton Jr., the installation of a double door and carpet in the area.
Once the renovations are completed, Sermons will move his judicial district office from Williamston to Beaufort County, Spruill told the commissioners.
The commissioners were asked to consider the plan at a called meeting so the work could be done during the holidays when court is not in session.
The board voted 5-1 in favor of the renovations with Commissioner Ed Booth casting the sole dissenting vote.
The new truck for Beaufort County Animal Control is expected to cost $21,000. Spruill said he had hoped to avoid the purchase of a new animal-control vehicle by transferring one from the county’s Water Department, but the truck that was transferred now has 233,000 miles and will not actively reverse.
The board unanimously approved the purchase of the new truck.
The expenditures will reduce the county’s contingency fund to about $600, Spruill said.
In other business, the board heard, but took no action on, a request from Mark Schweibinz to reduce the property-tax valuations on lots in two local housing developments — Stillwater and Bridgewater North.
Commissioner Jay McRoy was absent from the meeting.