San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

June 5th, 2009
County sends consultants back to drawing board on government center

ILLUSTRATION by PBS&J

Artist’s rendering of the proposed Hays County Government Center as seen from a recently completed extension of Stagecoach Road. County leaders have asked a consulting firm to scale down the plan.

by BRAD ROLLINS
Managing Editor

Faced with an estimated cost that has surged to about $115 million, county leaders this week instructed an outside project manager to reconfigure — and scale down — plans for a massive new government center to house a range of offices and courts.

In what County Judge Elizabeth Sumter called a wake up call for the commissioners court, Brenda Jenkins of Austin-based consulting firm Broaddus & Associates said in a workshop on Tuesday that the seven-floor, 321,890-square-foot building, as designed, will cost $94 million to build, a projection within 5 percent of building designer PBS&J’s $90 million construction estimate. But that number doesn’t account for $21 million in related expenses that include furnishings, data and phone wiring, utility infrastructure, road extension costs, permitting fees, bond issuance fees, moving expenses and professional services fees.

Court members dismissed out of hand moving forward with the building as currently designed and also rejected options laid out by Broaddus that, for example, lopped off a floor in an attempt to bring the total cost closer to $100 million. Instead, the court instructed Broaddus consultants to start with staffing projections and attendant space needs established by elected officials and department heads and work from there to design a more affordable building.

Said Pct. 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton, “I think now is the time to go back and make sure we have the right-sized building.”

One option for rejiggering plans, Broaddus consultants said, is abandoning plans to construct a building to accommodate expected growth through 2030. Instead, the building can be designed with future additions in mind.

The effort to trim the government center project comes against a backdrop of mounting capital expenses for the county.

The total county tax rate would have to increase from 45.5 cents per $100 in value to 54.12 cents per $100 by 2013 to pay for $380 million in anticipated capital projects, according to projections by County Auditor Bill Herzog. These include $207 million in road projects approved by voters last year and $30 million in parks approved by voters in 2007. In addition, Herzog’s projections allow $40 million for either a new or renovated jail.

As currently designed, the government center would include offices and courtrooms for district, county and two justice of the peace courts in addition to office space for the district clerk, county clerk, adult and juvenile probation, compliance and collections, district attorney, auditor, elections, human resources, information technology, tax assessor, treasurer and veterans affairs.

Sumter said on Tuesday that she favors removing the courts and related judicial offices from the government center and including them in a separate facility along with a new jail.

CORRECTION: The photo cutline originally referred to a planned extension of Stagecoach Road. The extension past its former terminus at Wonder World Drive. The extension has already been completed.

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5 thoughts on “County sends consultants back to drawing board on government center

  1. your numbers don’t add up Brad on the $380 million in capital expenses…

    road bonds – $207 m
    park bonds – 30 m
    jail – 40 m
    govt center – 115 m

    = 392 million

  2. Ok so we get a new Government Center and don’t move the Courts? Build a new jail and then move the Courts and related facilities? So we will need to spend even more money? What is our good Judge smoking? The entire point of building this project was to move all of the Court related functions to one central location. Let’s see the land we traded for is not large enough to build the “new jail court house” Had the County selected the property adjacent to the HE warehouse this might just be feasible. But some committee decided not to. Who was on it?

    Let’s see out of the following list which don’t involve the Courts: district clerk, county clerk, adult and juvenile probation, compliance and collections, district attorney, auditor, elections, human resources, information technology, tax assessor, treasurer and veterans affairs. That would leave: auditor, elections, tax assessor, treasurer, IT and Veterans Affairs. and how much are we going to spend?

    This is going from stupid to insane. Again, who was on the committee that selected this site? Who got us into this mess? Maybe I am missing something here but what our good Judge proposes simply shows no leadership, only a way to spend even more money that we don’t have and it will re create the problem we have now…decentralized County administration.

  3. Money Bags —

    Herzog’s projections, run before this week’s workshop, were based on $95.5 million for the govt center. They also include $8 million to rebuild Dacy Lane in Kyle as required in the county’s agreement with Seton Medical Center.

    It works out this way…

    road bonds – $207 million
    park bonds – $30 million
    jail – $40 million
    govt center – $95.5 million
    Dacy Lane – $8 million

    =380.5 million

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