Expensive countertops on taxpayers dime

(WMC-TV) The renovation of the Vasco Smith Administration Building downtown is projected to cost Shelby County some $20 million.

But officials claim they're not trying to outfit it like a Cadillac.

"No sir," said County Engineer Tom Needham. "Not like a Cadillac at all."

Needham showed Action News 5 the plans and said added expense will be spared.

"Let's say more like a Chevrolet with leather," said Needham.

But one man familiar with the project e-mailed us his concerns about the costly countertops specified in the plans. They're to be made of a sustainable recycled glass material called Icestone. The architect calls for a pattern known as "snow flurry" to top reception counters in the lobby areas on all 11 floors.

"It could run from $85 to $150 dollars a square foot," said Needham.

That is significantly more than the quartz or granite countertops on display at Premier Countertops in Olive Branch.

"I would say your average pricing for granite is gonna be anywhere from $60 to $70 a square foot," said Carol Jameson. "And that's nice granite."

The man who contacted us claims Icestone countertops cost more than those he's installed in many hotels and casinos, perhaps because it's a fairly new product and so environmentally friendly.

But Needham believes its durability over time might be worth the initial investment.

"This will have to last at least my lifetime and probably yours," said Needham.

Right now, officials are still making floor by floor modifications to the plans and have not yet decided on Icestone.

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