by BRAD ROLLINS
Officials say construction of a new building in San Marcos to house most of Hays County’s offices and all of its courts will not be further delayed after the commissioners court on Tuesday voted to move forward with a total project budget not to exceed $89.5 million.
Since a consultant’s study in 2004 estimated the building’s cost at about $30 million, the project has run roughshod over projections, eventually topping out at about $118 million total for a seven-floor, 321,890-square-foot building. All five members of the court said they were alarmed by that price tag and, in June, instructed project manager Broaddus & Associates to come up with options for reigning in burgeoning plans.
On Tuesday, the consulting firm presented three options to the court , the first of which would deliver a 233,600 square foot building that would accommodate all departments and elected officials originally envisioned as being housed there and those offices’ projected staff growth through 2020.
“We don’t want to move into a building that we’ve already outgrown. That is most important, that we have room to grow,” said Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe who chairs a committee of county employees overseeing construction plans.
The court voted 3-2 to set a maximum project budget of $89.5 million which allows Broaddus to proceed with reviewing architectural firms’ bids for the job. County Judge Elizabeth Sumter and Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley dissented.
Pct. 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton emphasized he sees the $89.5 million as a ceiling and said, “One of the things that will impress the court is people who can find creative ways to bring that number down.”
The two other options — 181,300 square feet for $73.8 million and 141,000 square feet for $59.6 million — would require retaining at least some of the county’s downtown properties, the sale of which county officials had planned to go toward paying for the new building.
Conley said he wants to constrain the project to the $70-80 million range while Sumter has advocated cutting courts and judiciary-related offices from this building and constructing a separate one later in conjunction with a new jail.Email | Print