Shelby Co. Building Being Renovated During Financial Crunch

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(Memphis) Shelby County just overcame a financial crisis by passing the bill to taxpayers by raising property taxes 36 cents.

Despite tough times, the 11-story county building is undergoing a $20 million renovation with taxpayer money.

The redo was a part of last year’s budget, but some are saying the county should have held off.

The building is being gutted in a $20 million renovation of the entire building.

The floor for Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s office is the only one finished in the entire building.

Commissioner Chris Thomas says they had to approve the high dollar revamp or it would have cost them even more money in the long run because it’s more energy efficient.

“That building is so old and rundown and it needed to be fixed so we can save money in the future,” said Thomas.

He says it couldn’t wait a few more years because it had already been put off.

Thomas says the water pipes and heat and air system needs to be changed and it’s cheaper to gut the whole building and do it floor by floor.

Commissioners say it could have doubled the costs if they split all the projects up.

Milton Sheppard understands things need to be upgraded, but thinks now isn’t the time.

“Wait to see if the economy is going to change a little bit. Because we’re spending money we don’t need to and we have school systems that need money,” said Sheppard.

The offices are also going to be smaller so they can fit more county employees in the building and cut back on other buildings.

Commissioners expect construction to wrap up by the end of the year.

Thomas says the county is trying to save money by going with a plain design and the county’s carpenters are actually building the cabinets to keep costs down.