After hearing from an auditor who said he found no irregularities, the Oak Ridge City Council voted 6-1 on Monday to end a financial review of the $281,000 project to build bathrooms and changing rooms in the structure that once housed the New China Palace Restaurant at the Oak Ridge Marina.
The audit had been requested by Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson, who said there was an allegation at the last Council meeting that there was some problem.
“When you get in front of a camera and you allege that something bad is going on…” Watson said, then you need to hear from a third party.
Questions have been raised about the building renovation by Oak Ridge City Council member Trina Baughn, who pointed out that she wasn’t the first to raise concerns, and former City Council member Anne Garcia Garland, among others. Most of the questions and criticisms have focused on the cost. A few different numbers have been reported about what the project was initially expected to cost and what it ended up costing. The 2014 budget showed it had a projected cost of $75,000, Baughn said.
But auditor Adam Allen, a principal of Coulter and Justus, told Council members during a special report on Monday that the renovation cost about $281,000. About half of that was labor, and another 50 percent was materials, Allen said. The audit found no irregularities. [Read more…]