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Financial issues push Halifax County Service Authority relocation

The South Boston Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and Halifax County Service Authority (HCSA) agreed last week to design and construct an office and maintenance services facility in Houghton Industrial Park. HCSA Executive Director Willie Jones said last week that initial impetus for the HCSA in seeking a new facility was the increase in fiscal agent fees.

“We anticipate they will rise to $144,000 annually from the initial $60,000.  They are $102,000 now,” said Jones.

“Our maintenance staff currently uses a portion of the Town of South Boston’s Public Works facility.  We have no guarantees of continued access to that facility, and we do not pay rent on it now, but there are significant operation inefficiencies that result from this separation.

“Any change we make has to be in one central location otherwise we gain little,” Jones said.

Cost estimates for office operations are preliminary, and costs for office supplies, software and related costs are still being refined, Jones noted, and the labor addition includes reassignments of duties and the addition of one person.

“The building costs are preliminary now.  We have seen estimates of less than $600,000, and $700,000 is a high number that we included in the preliminary agreement with the (South Boston) IDA.

“We can alter the layout to reduce costs,” he added.

Jones said the HCSA examined four other potential sites where they could consolidate facilities.

“The cheapest site cost $72,000 per year, and we could not own it,” said Jones.

“Not shown in the summary is $4,000 in savings from accounting efficiencies we do not have now,” said Jones, who cited location, accessibility to the HCSA customer base, better parking and access as benefits of consolidating operations at Houghton Industrial Park.

“Please remember we are examining this option,” Jones cautioned.

“If the numbers come back too high, our agreement with the IDA allows us to end the process.  There is still a lot of work to be done in the next few months on this,” he said.

Under the agreement, requests for proposals have been submitted for both financing the facility and for design and construction, with proposals scheduled for completion by Nov. 29.