County moves forward with financial services center

Published 6:07 pm Monday, August 14, 2017

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners was given a sneak preview of the county’s new Financial Services Center last week during a presentation by the architect.

Procopio Serrano, with The East Group, and Public Works Director Christina Smith presented the plan for the complete renovation of the building that previously housed First Bank on West Second Street. The county acquired the property in anticipation of moving the office where payments are processed from the approximately 14,000 county water customers. The building will also house a new conference room where future Board of Commissioners meetings will be held.

According to Smith, county staff is now reviewing the design documents that are 95-percent complete. The plan is to send out bids for the project’s construction during the fall, she said.

Serrano told commissioners The East Group made a point of using as much of the building’s existing internal structure as possible, while at the same time designing an “easy-to-use” space where it will be easy to interact with the public.

“We’re trying to minimize the impact. We understand the project and we want to get as much bang for our buck,” Serrano said.

Serrano also pointed out that the many people standing in the lobby during the Aug. 7 meeting will now have a seat in the much larger conference room. The room where commissioners currently meet holds an audience of 43 people. The new space will be able to 96 and will also feature an audio-visual package that will provide those seated in the back of the room with a live feed of the meeting.

The property was purchased in 2015 and the project will be paid for through a $3 million borrowing package that was approved along with the 2017-18 county budget. The loan will pay for several one-time capital projects for county facilities, including four roof projects, fixing and paving the Tideland building parking lot where the Board of Elections is located, improvements at the Beaufort County Courthouse and its basement jail, and capital projects for Beaufort County Schools and Beaufort County Community College, in addition to the new Financial Services Center.