NEWBERRY — Water issues at the Newberry County Courthouse continue to dampen the spirits of Newberry County Council.
In the current budget, county council set aside $452,580 for continued efforts to water proof the historic courthouse.
The plan was to make repairs to the roof of the courthouse and to dig out around the basement to prevent water coming in through the soil against the building.
The projects were bid out and came back over budget.
The county council finance committee then voted to do away with the basement work and only do the roof work at a cost of just over $400,000.
In the first reading of a budget amendment, the cost of the work was reduced and Clerk of Court Jackie Bowers voiced her concern that both the roof and the basement waterproofing was needed to ensure the historic building was protected.
She added the courthouse is likely the most important building in the county.
Last week the County Council Public Safety and Courts Committee discussed the issue and suggested the money be put back into the budget.
Some suggestions voiced in the committee meeting included using artificial stone which would save $60-80,000 and for the digging out around the courthouse to be done by county labor.
The issue was again approached at Wednesday’s County Council meeting and resulted in much discussion.
Councilman Kirksey Koon suggested the money be left in the budget and a workshop be held to discussed alternatives for the work.
Councilman Les Hipp said that he was opposed to putting the money back into the budget until it is needed.
“We can amend the budget at any time,” said Hipp, adding he would support more study on the project.
Discussion also centered around if the basement space would be used for offices or storage.
County leaders said there was no water problems in the basement until a portion of it was dug out 12 years ago to make room for office space.
At the time and in work since the council was guaranteed that the basement would not leak.
But so far none of the work has produced the desired results and offices were moved from the basement several years ago due to mold issues.
Councilman Edgar Baker said if the mold issues were not stopped that they would infect the entire building.
Koon also questioned if the water problem would cause structural issues and Hipp said it would not.
The debate on if the money would stay in the budget will continued to be debated through the third reading of the current budget amendment which will be Nov. 7.
The council did agree to hold a workshop to discuss the water issues at the courthouse.