MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – The president of Snead State Community College, who lives at the school’s hospitality center for $275 a month, did not seek bids before authorizing a $182,000 renovation of the building, according to a recent audit by state examiners.
Snead President Devin Stephenson uses the Elrod Hospitality Center on campus at Boaz as his primary residence, and still owns a house in Walker County. The hospitality center is also used to house out-of-town guests and for receptions and meetings.
The state Board of Education requires competitive bidding for any type of construction or renovation of campus facilities that exceed $50,000.
Such projects must also be submitted to the board for approval, which never happened when Stephenson authorized the project in 2003, the audit said.
Jody Upchurch, dean of Financial Services at Snead, yesterday said Stephenson wasn’t advised on bidding rules by the college’s business manager at the time, who has since left his post.
“I cannot speak as to why it was not bid, I really have no idea. It was the responsibility of the business manager of the time to advise the president,” Upchurch said. “More than likely, if I had to guess, the personnel at the college probably misinterpreted the bid law.”
Stephenson in his response to Friday’s 2003-04 audit by state examiners of public accounts said the original estimates for renovation to the Elrod Hospitality Center came in under $50,000.
However, the costs piled on after safety hazards – including an eroding foundation, termite damage, faulty electrical wiring and mold – were discovered during an inspection.
The audit also reported that Stephenson was behind on rent payments when he lived in another campus building. The school also was late to fix an accounting error, which failed to withhold Social Security taxes from his paychecks from January-March 2003.
Stephenson said he was never late on payments, but that he sometimes paid rent in full on a quarterly basis. He also said the error regarding his pay was corrected.
“We’ve addressed all these compliance issues and have taken corrective action on everything,” he said.