Public Works approves bare-bones list of state maintenance projects
The Public Works Board on Tuesday approved a bare bones list of capital improvement projects for the coming biennium consisting primarily of essential maintenance work.Director of Administration Jeff Mohlenkamp, who sits on the board, said his challenge will be finding enough money to cover the $81.4 million state share of the proposed list. While state revenues are beginning to recover from the recession, expenses continue to rise in Medicaid, food stamps and other entitlement programs, Mohlenkamp said after Tuesday’s meeting.“Everything we gain in taxes is being eaten up in caseload growth,” he said.Mohlenkamp said it’s important to fund as many of the 83 projects on the list as possible “We may not be able to come up with the full $80 million,” he said. “But the vast majority are critical.”The board made a couple of last-minute additions to the list, including expanding the scope of the proposed hotel college at UNLV from just schematic planning to design and construction documents so the college can be built in the following biennium if funds are available. Harrah’s Hotels, Resorts and Casinos is paying for half the cost. The bulk of the $4.5 million needed comes from existing funding appropriated, but not spent in the 2009 fiscal year.Public Works Manager Gus Nuez told the board that university officials feel they need to have planning and design completed in order to be successful in attracting contributions to cover the total cost.The board chaired by Tom Metcalf also added funding to pay for plans and design of a field maintenance shop at the Washoe County Armory for the National Guard. But Lt. Col. Clayton Chappell told the board nearly all of the cost will be reimbursed to the state by the federal government.To accommodate those expenditures, the board agreed with Nuez’s recommendation to reduce the proposed DMV office in central Las Vegas and the nearby Metro building from full design to just schematic design. And also to cut the proposed ADA budget from $3 million to $2 million for the coming biennium.Also included is $692,289 to building an execution chamber at the Ely State Prison. The historic execution chamber is the former gas chamber at the now-closed Nevada State Prison in Carson City. Experts have said under new court rulings it may well be impossible to conduct future executions in Carson and, at present, there are more than 100 inmates on death row in Nevada.The board also agreed to delay replacement of cell door locks in three units at Northern Nevada Correctional Center and to reduce the amount of added document storage for state archives, which is running out of space to keep important state records. The board was told the 20-percent increase in storage will cover them through 2018.The list focuses on life safety needs such as replacing the access bridge to the Caliente Youth Center in southeastern Nevada. The bridge is the only access and when there is a danger of flooding, the juveniles housed there have had to be evacuated by helicopter. It also includes security projects such as renovating the control room at the Lakes Crossing center for mentally ill offenders. It includes a number of HVAC and electrical projects in buildings throughout the state as well as electrical repairs and upgrades.Metcalf said nearly all the projects are less than $1 million.In addition to state funding, there is about $18 million in other money in the proposed budget.The proposed budget now goes to the governor for consideration.