Richland Co. Council votes to spend $1.3 million in taxpayer money to renovate chambers

Richland Co. Council votes to spend $1.3 million in taxpayer money to renovate chambers

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - By the end of the summer, guests at meetings of the Richland County Council should be looking at several changes to the council chamber.

At a special called meeting of the council on Tuesday, night members voted 8 to 3 in favor of appropriating close to $1.3 million to renovate the meeting chamber and its back room.

Supporters say the project will include taking steps to make both rooms more accessible for guests with disabilities as well as upgrading their heating and air conditioning systems.

"When we built the building and the chambers, there weren't even computers," said Councilman Jim Manning, who voted for the upgrades.

"The sound system goes in and out. That's the big price tag but you're gonna have to move the desk out," Manning continued.

The project will also include making cosmetic changes to the rooms. About $60,000 is being set aside to replace furniture in the council chamber.

"I personally would like to see those funds go to something else that's more vital and urgent," said Councilman Seth Rose, who voted in opposition.

Currently, guests in wheelchairs cannot access the room that council members use for the executive session. That would change once the renovations to both rooms are made.

Rose added that in the past the council has been able to get around the issue.

"We cleared the council chambers," Rose said. "We held an executive session in council chambers which is clearly already accessible by an individual who is needing a wheelchair."

Joining Rose in voting down the chamber renovations were council members Greg Pearce and Bill Malinowski. Council members Joyce Dickerson, Yvonne McBride, Paul Livingston, Gwendolyn Kennedy, Calvin Jackson, Dalhi Myers and Norman Jackson joined Manning in voting for the renovations.

The financing for the council chamber project is coming out of the general fund for Richland County.

The renovations to the rooms are scheduled to begin in August while the council is in recess.

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