Augusta, GA – It’s tough to do your job when you’re competing with countless roaches crawling around the office, but that’s the work environment endured by employees at the Augusta Public Defender’s Office. It’s so bad the office had to be shut down early today, but the infestation is nothing new. It has been going on for 4 years.
The cockroach infestation does present health concerns not only to the employees of the Public Defender’s Office, but also to the public who use the building. Commissioners say the upcoming SPLOST 7 package could potentially provide the funding to build a new facility.
A temporary fix for a permanent problem. A roach infestation caused the Public Defender’s Office to shut down early Tuesday so crews could fumigate the building.
“They did notify us as soon as they believed there was a serious enough problem. We do have a monthly pest control contract for that facility. So they are in there on a routine basis in addition to something extra that was needed today so we went ahead and took care of that as expeditious as possible,” said City Administrator Janice Jackson.
But this isn’t the first time the city has had to shell out money to fix the building.
“Leaking roof, we just replaced the roof. We spent about $27,000 on a roof replacement for it. You’ve got problems, just structurally just Nat sound, we also had to upgrade the HBAC systems, so it’s had multiple problems over the last few years,” Jackson told News Channel 6.
But city leaders agree something needs to change.
“It’s going to cost more money obviously to get them into a better situation. We are looking at the possibility of using SPLOST funds to find a much more adequate space for that group of staff people,” Jackson said.
The city pays more than $40,000 a year just to maintain the building. Jackson says it would cost about 4 million dollars to build a new facility, but that may be the best option.
“It just wasn’t meant to be used for that long and that’s the bottom line. I think it was supposed to be 5 year occupancy there and now you’re at twice that,” Jackson said.
Commissioners say it is a priority to create a safe environment for their employees. That’s why funding for a new building is on the wish list for the next SPLOST package.
“These employees have been in some pretty unfortunate circumstances in their office for years. So it’s something we need to see if we can address,” District 3 Commissioner Mary Davis told News Channel 6.
City administrators say the building does have an exterminator come monthly for pest control, but because of the nature of today’s fumigation it is unsafe for anyone to be in the office. The building will remain closed until 8 a.m. Wednesday.
On Sept. 13, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver featured our story about the Augusta Public Defender’s Office roach infestation.
See the clip below.