10/26/09 — County might front money to relocate phone lines

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County might front money to relocate phone lines

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 26, 2009 1:46 PM

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith is willing to front the state money to relocate phone lines at the county courthouse annex, but only with a signed agreement it will be repaid.

For the past several weeks, the county has been renovating third-floor offices in the annex that were left vacant when the planning and inspections departments were moved to the Jeffreys Building on John Street.

The idea behind the move was to free up space for court offices -- district attorney, judges and clerk of court.

However, the move has been stymied somewhat because the phone lines that need to be moved are under the state's control and the money to do the work is lacking.

"The big holdup right now is the phone lines," Smith said. "The phone lines are controlled by the state, so I am waiting on the state. I have asked some of our state offices to contact them and find out what the cost is to get this done. They are waiting for the release of the state budget. They say that the money is there, but that they are not allowed to use it.

"What I am asking is, that to go ahead and alleviate this pain right up front, would the state sign an agreement with me where I would front the $10,000 or $12,000, we are not really sure of the estimate, to go ahead and get these phone lines moved and the state reimburse us? But I am going to have to have a written agreement between the state of N.C. before I am going to do it. I am just not going to do it and hope to get paid."

Smith said he is willing to proceed if it will expedite the move.

"Our court system, they need to move," he said. "They are crunched for space. I think everything is pretty much done. We have moved some furniture around."

Along with painting and other renovations, the county has added security cameras, inside and outside, and security doors that require an ID badge to enter.

The security doors also monitor when people enter and leave.

"That is for security and emergency planning," he said. "When people swipe in and out, like over a weekend and something happens over the weekend, we would know. I'm sorry, but you need to know if you need to look for somebody. We can go to the computer system and know who came in."

The work has cost about $12,000 not including the in-house labor. It also does not include the cost of the phone lines. The camera and security doors were done by outside contractors.

Renovations totaling about $20,000 also are being finished in the first-floor tax office.

The work was to make the counters more "user friendly," Smith said.

The counters were reworked to make them more like work stations where employees have all of the equipment they need in order to wait on customers, he said.