Nevada death chamber not moving to Ely

The state’s execution chamber is staying in Carson City.

Lawmakers on Wednesday rejected Gov. Brian Sandoval’s plan to move it from the historic Nevada State Prison to Ely. Sandoval had proposed the move because the prison has been shut down except for the death chamber and license plate factory there, and because death-row inmates are housed at Ely.

Lawmakers balked at the $692,289 cost of building an execution chamber in the administration building at Ely State Prison. They also pointed out that no inmates among the nearly 100 on death row are close to using up all their appeals, so another execution isn’t likely in the next two years.

Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, moved to delete the project from the proposed construction and maintenance budget. The joint Ways and Means/Senate Finance subcommittee unanimously approved.

The panel also voted to put $3.8 million into design and construction of a new prefabricated building to house the Department of Motor Vehicles license plate factory. The money comes from the highway fund. Under the plan, it would be paid back by a new, small license plate fee.

The new plant will be part of the Stewart Conservation Camp at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City.

Lawmakers almost immediately voted to use the savings from not building a new execution chamber to help pay for renovation of the old Stein Hospital in Southern Nevada. The renovation would add up to 19 beds for seriously ill, long-term psychiatric patients. That project was originally proposed as using half state and half tobacco-settlement money. The change reduces tobacco money in the $2 million renovation project to just $343,110.

In Carson City, $1.99 million was allocated to design and build a new loading dock and replace the freight elevator at Nevada State Museum. The original plan was to build the loading dock, but staff advised that doing the elevator at the same time would save nearly $20,000.

The subcommittee also approved $3.69 million to pay for advanced planning and development of bid documents for a Northern Nevada Veterans Home. At present, the state’s only veterans home is in the south. The plan is to construct a 96-bed home in Sparks. Subcommittee members expect the federal government will pay most of the actual construction costs.

Also on the list of planning projects is the $45 million new University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Hotel College. A total of $4.9 million will pay for the new academic building at the William F. Harrah’s College of Hotel Administration.

The total capital improvements budget for the coming two-year budget cycle is $103.9 million — $91.8 million in state projects and the remaining $7.6 million in highway fund money. That is a $3.64 million increase over what the governor recommended. Some $700,000 of that comes from savings in current projects, primarily because they came in under original estimated bids.

The primary funding source is general obligation bonds totaling $60.5 million.

Public Works Manager Gus Nuñez said the vast majority of the cash will go for critical maintenance and repair projects.


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