Kinkead building demolition halted by budget cuts

The state Public Works Board has found more than $23 million in savings to help cover the state budget shortfall, including major savings from the expansion of the Southern Nevada Women's Correctional Center.

Deputy Public Works Manager Evan Dale said the project was originally designed to add 400 more beds to the prison for $54.5 million. But the state was pleasantly surprised when the low bid came in at just $40 million. He said that enabled the state to back out the entire $7 million in general fund money committed to the expansion.

Public Works Manager Gus Nuñez said the women's prison project will contribute at least $4.5 million more to the treasury - beyond that $23 million - because part of the project, the 100-bed transitional housing unit, has been eliminated.

He told the Public Works Board that Director of Corrections Howard Skolnik asked him to eliminate those beds because they aren't needed. Skolnik has converted 50 beds at the Casa Grande transitional center to handle female inmates.

Apco Construction has already started work on what is now a 300 medium security bed expansion at the women's prison.

In addition to the women's prison, Nuñez said the agency found $5.5 million excess general fund money in 38 other projects that can be returned to the treasury. One of those items is $400,000 left over from the demolition of Clear Creek Youth Camp.

Another $1.6 million was saved by delaying the demolition of the Kinkead Building and $225,505 by reducing the budget for demolition of the old children's home cottages at Fifth and Stewart streets.

Nuñez said that project will still go forward but may not be entirely completed until the next Legislature replaces that money.

In addition, more than $7 million was saved by deferring the furnishings, fittings and equipment costs on major university construction projects. Nuñez said those buildings won't be ready for furnishings and equipment this budget cycle anyway, so reverting that money won't hurt them.

Finally, about $3 million was saved by reducing the scope of the Nevada Highway Patrol's southern training facility project and the Desert Willow Treatment Center addition.

All state agencies were ordered by Gov. Jim Gibbons to reduce general fund spending by 4.5 percent because state revenues are not meeting projections used to build the budget.

Despite the reductions, Nuñez said work is continuing on more than 160 capital improvement projects around the state. He told the board that translates to $376 million worth of construction in Southern Nevada and $182 million in the north.

He said another $117 million worth of projects is going out to bid this year in the south and $82 million in the north.

One project that is on the horizon for funding by the 2009 Legislature, he said, is Prison 8. At $250 million, Nuñez said that project will be by far the most expensive the state of Nevada has ever undertaken.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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