Letter to the Editor: Beaufort County construction spending costs

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Beaufort County administration apparently ignored its own ordinance for the 1 mill sales tax road projects which required a complete cost estimate and schedule be submitted to County Council before construction commenced.  In answer to my Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, the administration failed to provide that required submission.

Multiple FOI requests produced the following cost information:

• The new Lady’s Island bridge and road widening overspent by $14 million (40%)

• Forecast overspending on Boundary Street U.S. 21 widening: $10.2 million (43%).

• Estimated overspending on Bluffton Parkway is $21.9 million (36%).

• Underspending of $11.1 million (28%) on US 278 widening, if  scope of work still same as original plan.

• Under spending of $6.7 million (51%) on US 278 frontage roads, if scope of work same as original plan.

• Five other projects with smaller over and under spending netted overspending of $2.6 million.

• Two other projects appear to be in limbo or stopped.

Wow!  $48.6 million spent above plan on several projects with a possible saving of $17.8 million on two others, if scope has not been reduced.

In my opinion, county administration is  concealing poor performance from the public on all construction projects.  Transparency on the county website is needed that is comparable to that found on Beaufort School District’s quarterly financial reports on their website.

Planning, management and visibility are needed for construction projects of Beaufort County. Council, a policymaking group, needs to develop requirements that ensure proper public disclosures on their website.

Jim Bequette, Lady’s Island