Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black testified before state legislators to explain that the Georgia Department of Agriculture needs $4 million to repair a poorly-designed portion of the Georgia Poultry Laboratory in Gainesville.
The $14 million laboratory was opened in 2015, and according to a WABE report, Black said the design flaws have been a problem “since almost the day we cut the ribbon.”
The facility is used to do diagnostic testing for the poultry industry for bird health matters such as avian influenza.
Because of design flaws in the building, the laboratory roof has had multiple leaks, and vibrations damaged the seals on windows. In April, because of such problems, employees had to be moved out of the building.
The plans for the facility, which was built under the administration of former Gov. Nathan Deal, were approved by the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission. Black said that the plans should never have been approved as they were, and now the state needs to come up with $4 million to solve the problem.
Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, says the problem needs attention, including holding responsible people accountable for what has happened.
“We just kissed $14 million bye,” said Williams. “Somebody needs to be held accountable for $14 million of taxpayers’ money.”
Ground was broken on the facility in 2013. It was built to replace an older laboratory that had been in operation for about 50 years.
Deal has been out of office for less than two weeks. He served as the governor of Georgia from January 10, 2011 to January 14, 2019. Brian Kemp is the current governor.
Black has been the state’s commissioner of agriculture since the beginning of Deal’s first term as governor. He is also a former president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council. He and his wife Lydia continue to raise beef cattle at his family’s farm.