Study: State construction in Northern Nevada on target |

Study: State construction in Northern Nevada on target

A review by the Public Works board has concluded claims by Southern Nevada lawmakers the north gets a disproportionate amount of state capital construction are wrong.

The study covers since 2001 and found when measured in square feet of major construction or dollars spent, about two-thirds of construction was in Southern Nevada and one third in the north. Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Chief of Staff Mike Willden said that matches the population split between north and south.

He said more than 3.6 million square feet of major construction was done in that period with 2.5 million square feet in Southern Nevada.

In terms of dollars spent, Willden said the total for those 17 years is a bit under $1.2 billion, of which $843.2 million was in the south compared to $354.7 million in the north.

The complaints surfaced after Sandoval rolled out his proposed budget for the coming two years, a budget that prominently featured a new $83 million engineering college building at University of Nevada, Reno, a Northern Nevada veteran’s home for $36 million and a new Reno DMV office at $42 million. Federal dollars will eventually pay for most of the veterans home project.

But Willden pointed out the top priority last session that will be finished off this session was the $50 million Hotel College at UNLV as well as funding the health sciences center at the College of Southern Nevada. Just like the hotel college, the engineering college is to be 50 percent privately funded.

He said Southern Nevada has had a veterans home for years and, as for DMV, the state just completed the new Sahara DMV office and remodel of the Flamingo office.

When all those things are taken into consideration, he said the apportionment of major projects and capital improvement project spending between north and south is pretty much where it should be.

More than half the total spending is on the campuses of the university system, Willden said. As for purely state construction, Willden said the largest amount went into Department of Corrections projects. After that, he said state Department of the Military projects are a major percentage of construction — most of which is reimbursed by the federal government.

He said, however, when it comes to maintenance projects, the north gets a lot more than the south because it has so many more state-owned buildings, many of which are decades older than in the south. The vast majority of southern state offices, he said, are in leased space.