Lumber price increase halts construction on Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center

Williamson County

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Construction on a new Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center is on hold for now because of a spike in lumber prices. The project could cost the county 30% more than it previously expected.

The cost to the new center is already slated at $5.5 million, but now they’re looking at an extra $1.8 million in construction costs.

Over 800 children receive interview services at the Williamson County Advocacy Center every year.

Temporary Children’s Advocacy Center in Round Rock (KXAN/Kaitlyn Karmout)

“The particular role they play for the county is that when a child is assaulted, a forensic interview needs to happen and it needs to happen in a quick fashion,” said Williamson County Commissioner Russ Boles.

The center has temporarily relocated to a facility in Round Rock. The 24-year-old building in Georgetown, set for a rebuild and expansion, no longer has the space to meet the center’s growth.

“We see how this works for families,” said CEO Kerrie Stannell. “We’re almost at 30 staff now.”

The 8,000-square-foot building is fit for eight staff members. The problem is Williamson County didn’t budget for an unexpected $2 million cost overrun due to construction prices. The discussion came up during a May 25 commissioners court meeting.

“I’m always the one saying we need to look at the bigger picture here,” said Commissioner Cynthia Long. “I’m reluctant to do a 30% increase on what was, I feel like, a more than generous contribution from the county.”

Design for new Children’s Advocacy Center in Georgetown.

“They also provide an additional service in that they do counseling,” said Commissioner Russ Boles. “It’s not just the child that needs counseling, often it’s the family members that did not appreciate what was happening.”

Williamson County’s Auditor identified $1.5 million in Capital Improvement Project Funds, but it’s a discussion put on hold for now.

Williamson County commissioners plan to discus the fate of the advocacy center again on Tuesday, June 8. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the price of lumber and plywood is up 62% since April of 2020.

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