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A shipment of walnut-veneered bookcases, desks and storage cabinets almost hit a snag as county officials first debated, and ultimately approved, new furniture for the Lancaster County Economic Development Corp.
Lancaster County Council tackled the latest LCEDC agenda item during its Nov. 11 meeting, a few weeks after funding for the LCEDC’s planned new offices in the former Agribusiness Development Center was frozen.
County Administrator Steve Willis said the frozen funds have created a new problem, though, as LCEDC employees had been authorized earlier this year to use some of that funding to buy new office furniture.
“(LCEDC president) Keith Tunnell has been working with a procurement person for the furniture. However at the last meeting council froze the funding, though Keith indicated the need for furniture now,” Willis said.
As such, Willis asked council to once again approve spending $45,761.44 to allow the LCEDC to acquire new furniture. The list of furniture includes Espresso-colored desks, bookcases, tables and cabinets for use by Tunnell and his employees in both their main and Indian Land offices.
Scanning the multi-page furniture request, Councilman Bob Bundy asked for clarification if this funding had already been approved for furniture and equipment for LCEDC.
“Yes it is. It’s part of the total $75,000 that was requested and this is the furniture portion,” Tunnell said.
County Finance Director Veronica Thompson asked about the delivery time for the furniture. LCEDC employee Elaine McKinney said the furniture could be shipped to the LCEDC within 10 to 15 business days.
The idea of ordering the furniture before a final LCEDC headquarters was chosen did not sit well with several council members, including Councilwoman Charlene McGriff.
“Do y’all want to wait until you get a new location?” McGriff asked. “It could be a lot of stress moving it all. Are y’all concerned about that?”
Neither Tunnell nor McKinney were concerned and asked that council move forward, especially since they have already measured and ordered furniture with a specific set of dimensions.
“That’s what I’m worried about, that it won’t fit (somewhere else),” McGriff said.
Councilman Steve Harper suggested holding off until LCEDC finds its new home.
“I think we need to wait to do this. I don’t think two months will hurt anybody,” Harper said.
Tunnell reassured council the furniture would be practical no matter the location it’s used.
“Part of this is for furniture in our Indian Land offices, so some of this furniture can be switched around,” Tunnell said.
Though there were several suggestions to wait, Council Chairman Larry McCullough countered that waiting could be detrimental to the LCEDC.
“It could be another six, eight, nine months before they get where they are going,” McCullough said. “If it’s only two months that’s one thing, but if it’s longer than two months it could have an impact on them.”
Councilman Larry Honeycutt, who has expressed concerns this year about funding used by the LCEDC, questioned Tunnell about the office’s current furniture.
“What will we do with the furniture you now possess?” Honeycutt asked.
Tunnell said the current furniture, which is owned by the LCEDC, is not in good shape and needs to be replaced.
“That can’t be moved up to Indian Land? Where’s the money coming from?” Honeycutt asked.
Thompson said funding would come from the county’s Air-Rail Park bonds.
“He has not spent the money yet,” Thompson said.
Willis said other options were considered during the process of searching for new furniture.
“Traditionally if we have a new furniture request from a department we check with all the other departments, but there was none,” Willis said.
Prior to the vote, Bundy asked what happens to the furniture if the structure of the LCEDC changes, a possibility that council is currently considering. Tunnell said the furniture would remain the county’s property.
Following the debate, council then unanimously approved the funding request for new furniture.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416