• $9,600 special-event fee from Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office
• $1,300 in building and miscellaneous permits
Local builders and contractors aren’t the only ones who donated services to build a house for ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” last month.
Catoosa County, Ga., waived nearly $11,000 in fees and now likely will fix a curb and repave a road used during the build.
In all, the cost to the county appears to be much lower — less than half — than recorded in other Southeast communities where “Makeover” has come to town.
In February, the hit reality show took over Monanaw Avenue in Catoosa County’s Lakeview community for a week to tear down and rebuild a house for Michael and Cindy Sharrock and their son, Patrick, who has brittle bone disease.
On Feb. 15, the day after the Makeover crew tore down the Sharrocks’ house, county commissioners voted unanimously to waive fees for special events and various building permits.
County Manager Mike Helton said the special-event fee would have been about $9,600, and the building permits and other fees would have totaled about $1,300.
Schedules for inspectors, deputies and firefighters were adjusted to accommodate the intense building schedule, but Helton said the county wound up paying only three hours of overtime. Some commissioners had estimated the county’s contributions for waived fees and overtime might be between $14,000 and $30,000.
Commissioner Jim Cutler said “given the spirit” of the build, he hesitated to bring up the county’s contributions, but he said the county did help the project along.
“All of the sheriff’s deputies and firefighters, that’s what Catoosa County, I guess, donated,” he said. “It all fell on Catoosa County.”
The county building inspector and other public works officials spent long hours on the site during the build, Helton said, but because those employees are salaried, the county didn’t have to pay them any extra.
“It wears them out, but it doesn’t cost us a dime extra,” Helton said.
Maj. Gary Sisk with the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office said the department didn’t have to pay any overtime, despite having at least two deputies onsite 24 hours a day for about 10 days. School was out for a couple of days during the build, which allowed the sheriff to reassign school resource officers.
“We just moved some people around and made some reassignments,” Sisk said.
Firefighters were also at the build for almost the whole time. Helton said the fire crews already were swollen with firefighters training to start at a new station set to open in Lakeview later this month. Firefighters were shuffled around to work their scheduled shifts with an extra truck at the build.
“It came at a perfect time for our fire stations,” Helton said.
Helton said one section of curb would need to be fixed, which would cost about $440. He also said Monanaw will probably need to be repaved, but he didn’t have an estimate for the cost of fresh asphalt.
He said he was reluctant to chalk up the repaving costs to the “Makeover” tab because the road would have needed repaving eventually anyway.
$26,000 in savannah
The Savannah Morning News reported the coastal Georgia city provided almost $26,000 in taxpayer-funded services for a recent production of “Makeover,” mostly in waived fees, donated services and overtime for police officers.
When the Makeover crew came to Augusta, Ga., the city and utility company waived more than $2,500 in fees and paid $12,646 in police overtime, according to The Augusta Chronicle.
Savannah city spokesman Bret Bell told the newspaper the decision to work with the show was made to help the family and to help promote the city to the show’s 10 million viewers.
Catoosa commission Chairman Keith Greene echoed the same idea.
“The fees that we waived will pay off in the long run,” Greene said. “Any time you have an opportunity like that for a national show ... we’re going to get some attention.”
He said he didn’t expect the costs would “have any kind of severe impact on the budget.”
As for repaving, Commissioner Jim Cutler said the road certainly will be added to the county’s list for fresh asphalt, but it would not get any special priority.
“Yes, the road probably needs to be repaired, but so do many roads in the county,” he said.
Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...
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