Fayette adds $2 million to finance new health building

Fayette County Administrator Steve Rapson. File photo.
Fayette County Administrator Steve Rapson. File photo.

Commission to borrow another $1.8 million to cover shortfall in construction —

A unanimous vote by the Fayette County Commission on May 28 continues a project that will relocate county and federal health facilities in a new building to be constructed adjacent to the Fayette Senior Services (FSS) building across from the Fayette County Justice Center in Fayetteville.

The project will return to the commission at a later date as plans become more solidified.

The estimated cost of the project is $5.2 million for a 2-story, 35,100 sq. ft. building, to be located on county-owned property adjacent to the FSS building.

Previous funding includes $1 million from the health department, $1 million from the county and $436,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.

Commissioners on May 28 allocated an additional $1 million from unassigned fund balance reserves toward the project, and agreed to finance the $1.8 million shortfall over a 10-year period through the Public Facilities Authority utilizing $200,000 from the existing $275,000 health department allocation. WIC will also contribute another $436,000 to be allocated over a 10-year period.

County Manager Steve Rapson noted that at the new facility, Fayette County Physical Health and WIC are projected to produce $264,906 in new revenues through expanded services and additional ones, such as a new training program for restaurant workers.

Rapson said that with the additional space beyond what is currently provided, the new facility will accommodate additional staffing and clients which will generate additional revenue through increased self-pay and third-party insurance.

The new facility will also centralize all services, including WIC which is currently located in a small building on Lee Street, and bring them under one roof.

Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch on May 21 said, as a member of the Board of Health, she was the lone vote opposing the project based on concern for taxpayers.

Rapson at the May 28 meeting told commissioners that, unlike cities which have charters, the county is a subsidiary of the state and is required to provide health services.

Rapson said nearly half those using the health department are from outside the county, adding that, as a state facility, Fayette cannot legally restrict others from using the facility. He also noted that, of the Fayette County residents using health department services, 26 percent of those reside in the 3029 (Peachtree City) zip code.

Rapson said having the new facility will also free-up 8,000 sq. ft. in the county complex currently used by environmental health and physical health, both of which currently need more space to serve both existing and future needs.