Nevada lawmakers direct Public Works to get a better handle on construction inflation
A joint subcommittee Monday directed Public Works to get a better handle on construction inflation and separate that from change orders and other things that are raising the price of state buildings well above their original budgets.
The agency will have to report those costs quarterly to the Interim Finance Committee.
Sen. Chris Brooks, D-Las Vegas, said that a lot of what he sees isn’t the result of inflation but of changes to the various projects. He said Public Works blames the changes on inflation.
“A lot of it was we just ended up with a different building and that’s not inflation.
Brooks was joined by Republican James Settelmeyer of Gardnerville who said he was concerned about adding change orders to projects, “and then trying to sell it to us as inflation when it wasn’t.”
Settelmeyer and Reno Republican Ben Kieckhefer agreed with Brooks that those costs need to be tracked and reported to lawmakers separately so they can see what is happening.
The subcommittee of Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means agreed to project 10 percent inflation in Southern Nevada and 7 percent for the rest of the state. They also directed the agency to develop a better method of predicting inflation that must be built into the cost of new and remodeled buildings.
“I’d like somebody to show me the math,” said Settelmeyer.
“Public Works should track changes in existing and future projects, what changes were made that ended up with different cost estimates,” said Brooks.
The discussion came during a review of capital improvement projects approved by the 2017 Legislature, many of which required increases in funding.
One of them is the new south Reno DMV complex that needed $8.9 million added to its budget for a total of more than $50 million.
The subcommittee also approved $763,276 to complete the exterior renovation of the state Capitol. That project was funded with $1.8 million in 2017 to deal with leaky windows and doors, rotting gutters, repointing of the stonework and other exterior issues.
The subcommittee rejected requests for security barriers at both the Attorney General’s Carson City office and the state Education Building in Carson City. Agencies had requested the security at entrances to those buildings to separate employees from the public.
But lawmakers cited concerns about unnecessarily “hardening” buildings.
“I believe our public buildings should stay as welcoming as possible,” said Ways and Means Chairman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas.
She said the number of problems and incidents at those buildings in the past is minimal and doesn’t justify the need.