Special Report: Out of Line Asking for a Single Line?

TEE-Totally Fried Circuits

A $2.6 Million Cover Up?

Originally Posted on CityStink
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Lori Davis

Al M. Gray, President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc. contributed multidisciplinary review techniques in support of this article. Cost Recovery Works is no longer in business, as of December 31, 2020.

In $15 Million Augusta Conference Center Pays $25,000 a Year to City, this writer brought up the issue of the enormous electrical power costs that were evident in an earlier Georgia Open Records Request in which the accounting for Augusta Conference Center lease payments was obtained. Those records suggested that the Conference Center Manager, Augusta Riverfront, LLC (owner and operator of the Marriott hotels), was using estimates to separate power used by the Marriotts from that charged to Augusta’s Conference Center rather than precise separate metering.

That got me to thinking. If they are estimating for the Conference Center, where they are responsible for the power bill, are they going to estimate again for the TEE Center power? Will there be separate metering for the bill that the taxpayer has to pay out of the General Fund of Augusta-Richmond County?

In a Georgia Open Records Act Request submitted on October 31, 2012 an official inquiry was made to access the simple single line diagram that would answer my question. A single line diagram looks like this:

It doesn’t show locations, specifications, or details, it just shows how power enters a development or building and the uses to which it is directed. Imagine the shock when the response from Augusta’s Law Department was a refusal to provide an answer to my request based upon considerations that disclosure, “would compromise security.”

Why is Fred Russell’s and Deke Copenhaver’s Law Department engaged in this cover up? Russell flits about, dismissing public watchdogs’ efforts as being concerned over nickles and dimes, when he hides the truth about the legitimacy of a $5.2 million ($350,000 for 15 years) TEE Center Cost? Proposed Management company executive Paul S. Simon thinks that, “this is a very expensive building to operate,” while citing a $350,000 annual power bill as a reason, so a key player doesn’t see this Fred’s way.

Sources tell me that the way the TEE Center electricity was routed was such that the TEE Center, where Augusta pays the bill, is on the same incoming circuit as the Conference Center, where Augusta Riverfront, LLC pays the bill.  They say that, in the aftermath of last Friday’s meeting between three Augusta Commissioners with Augusta’s contracted counsel and an Augusta Riverfront, LLC attorney efforts are underway to accomplish separate metering.

The watchdogs want to see proof of developments on the issue. We want to see savings.

At just one-half the costs indicated by Mr. Simon, this is a $2.6 million question. It is good to see a team of Augusta commissioners looking for answers that Fred Russell and the Law Department intend to hide.


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