RALEIGH — North Carolina taxpayers spent about $19,000 to remodel a small restroom in Gov. Pat McCrory's office at the State Capitol over the summer following complaints about a bad smell.
McCrory canceled plans last week to spend $230,000 in state funds to remodel six bathrooms in the historic Executive Mansion in Raleigh following public outcry. The Associated Press reported the work was to include more than $100,000 in new fixtures, marble and tile for McCrory's master bathroom.
McCrory spokeswoman Kim Genardo said the old Capitol restroom required new paint, tile and repairs last July because of poor maintenance under the Republican governor's predecessor, a Democrat.
"We spent $19,156 to replace broken tiles, flooring and make extensive repairs to plumbing that were not fixed by the previous administration," Genardo said. "Additionally, a pungent odor seeped into the governor's office, which made it an embarrassment to host company CEOs and guests at the State Capitol."
Genardo stressed that McCrory's administration chose the cheaper of two estimates for the work, electing to lay new tile over the old rather than rip out and replaster the walls. She provided no additional explanation for the source of the offending odor. The private restroom contains a sink and toilet.
McCrory faced criticism from Democrats for planning pricey remodeling at the mansion little more than a month after signing a state budget that provided big tax cuts for the wealthy while providing no raises for teachers, dropping per-pupil school spending to among the lowest rates in the nation and slashing a program that provides dental work to low-income children.
In statement last week, Genardo said those renovation plans would be scaled back to "do only basic maintenance at minimal cost to get the bathrooms up to code, remove dangerous mold and fix broken faucets."
The mansion bathrooms were last remodeled in the 1970s but were said to be in working order.
A September memo justifying the upgrades listed problems including the lack of water-efficient commodes, cracked tiles, worn countertops, inadequate electrical outlets and concern there might be mold growing behind the walls. There was no mention of testing to confirm the suspected mold contamination or determine whether it is of the toxic variety.
The North Carolina Plumbing Code, which governs state facilities, includes no requirement that functioning bathrooms and plumbing be replaced to meet current requirements unless an inspector determines there is a "hazard or unsafe condition."
Genardo has not responded to requests to specify what rules require the six mansion bathrooms to be brought "up to code."
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