Board suggests 2005-06 construction priorities |

Board suggests 2005-06 construction priorities

The Nevada Public Works Board is sending Gov. Kenny Guinn a list of public works projects that dedicates nearly half the projected budget to life safety, critical maintenance and completion of existing projects.

University and state agencies submitted requests for projects totaling more than $505 million during the coming two-year budget cycle. But Director of Administration Perry Comeaux said, realistically, the state will have about $200 million in bonds it can issue and probably $50 million in cash for capital works projects.

The rest of the projects, while worthy, will just have to wait.

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The board, headed by Las Vegas construction executive John Breternitz, decided to prioritize their list beginning with projects necessary to cure life safety problems such as installation of new fire sprinklers for Western Nevada Community College in Fallon.

After spending about $17.8 million on 14 of those projects, the board voted to take care of critically needed maintenance including several roofing projects, sewage projects and HVAC replacements and renovations in old state buildings for another $42 million in state funds.

Board members agreed the next projects in priority should be so-called FF&E – furnishings, fittings and equipment costs needed to put newly completed buildings around the state in operation. While there are only nine projects on that list, they require a total of more than $44.9 million in state funds.

Projects in those three categories alone account for $104.8 million – nearly half the total funding Public Works Manager Dan O’Brien expects to be available for the coming biennium. And fully half that amount – $51 million – will go for projects within the university system including FF&E for the Science and Technology Building in Las Vegas and the new library Knowledge Center at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Only after those expenditures do new major construction projects start to show up on the priority list. The first major project is a new readiness center for the Nevada Army National guard in Las Vegas. While that project will total more than $23 million, the federal government is expected to pick up more than $13 million of the total.

Another large project on the new construction list is the proposed Greenspun College of Urban Affairs at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The total cost is projected at $37.2 million but the Greenspun Family, owners of the Las Vegas Sun among other Southern Nevada businesses, is contributing $13 million toward the project.

Carson City doesn’t show up with a new building on the construction list until project 15 – which would be a lease-purchase project building a new facility for buildings and grounds for an estimated $20 million.

But when new construction, maintenance and remodels are added up, the biggest single slice of the budget would go to the Nevada Department of Corrections. The prison system’s total CIP request is nearly $30 million, including $4 million to begin planning of a new prison that will eventually cost up to $100 million by itself. But if the inmate population continues to grow faster than predicted, prison officials say they may have to ask for as much as $50 million more than that.

Breternitz said the list would be presented to Guinn for consideration in building the budget with the understanding that the state would work its way down the list according to how much money is finally available for capital improvement projects.

Guinn, however, doesn’t have to follow the priority list laid out by the Public Works Board. He could change projects around depending on events between now and when the budget is submitted to lawmakers at the end of the year.