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Capital Committee Recommends Increased Bond Authority for Human Services Annex Improvements

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Capital Committee Recommends Increased Bond Authority for Human Services Annex Improvements

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The Legislature's Capital Plan Review Committee, meeting in special session Tuesday, recommended that bonding authority be increased for improvements to the new Human Services Annex building on West State Street, to reflect added cost since preliminary plans and financial projections were prepared. But it incorporated recommended project changes that would bring cost down from the level initially estimated and advanced by the budget committee earlier in the week.

The Legislature has already authorized up to $750,000 in bonding to configure the space, first as an office for the County's Office for the Aging (which must vacate its space in the County Courthouse to accommodate court system needs), and making the building also appropriate for potential future County uses, such as the Community Justice Center. But the Capital committee was told last week that closer examination and detailed design show that the improvements cannot be completed for that amount, with a projected cost of nearly $1.3 million suggested to cover design and construction.

By a 3-2 vote the Legislature's budget committee earlier this week recommended the proposed bonding increase at that level, with some members cautioning they approved only to advance the matter to the full Legislature for consideration. The Capital Plan Review Committee Tuesday took a careful line-by-line look at potential project changes, prepared by HOLT Architects and Facilities Manager Arel LeMaro, then recommended modifications that would reduce projected cost by more than $100,000, requiring bonding authority of up to $1,175,000.

Many of the changes relate to interior furnishings, finishes, and other amenities. The committee supports retaining construction elements that would preserve project elements to meet LEED energy standards, in line with County policy. It also preserved design that would elevate mechanical systems off the main floor, to maximize building space. LeMaro noted that project elements struck now could be included as alternates as part of the bidding process, and potentially incorporated if desired, should bids come in under budget.

The committee recommendation came by a 4-1 vote, Legislator Kathy Luz Herrera dissenting, saying that while she supports most of the recommended changes, including preserving the LEED options, she believes it appropriate for the full Legislature to thoroughly discuss the project and desired changes. The Legislature will hear from architects and take up the issue at its December 20 meeting.