Courthouse work $400,000 over budget |

Courthouse work $400,000 over budget

County officials pleased with functional remodel

The Routt County government offices at the historic courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs.
John F. Russell/File

By the numbers

Historic Routt County Courthouse and annex remodel

Budgeted: $4,473,054

Actual cost: $4,884,742

Variance: $411,688

Percentage variance: 9 percent

— County officials said Monday that a $400,000 cost overrun on the two-year remodel of the historic Routt County Courthouse and annex was because of a post-budget change in the project’s scope of work.

The officials also stressed that the overage has no bearing on current cuts being made to the county’s operational budget – including a 10 percent pay cut for county employees approved last week – because the county maintains a separate pool of money for capital projects.

“I would call that a really separate issue,” County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said.

The overage does mean there will be less money available for future capital projects, County Manager Tom Sullivan said.

“It’s capital money,” he said. “It’s there for capital projects.”

According to Routt County Finance Director Dan Strnad, the county budgeted $4.5 million for the remodel in 2007 after the 14th Judicial District’s move to the new Routt County Justice Center in western Steamboat. The project now is expected to come in at $4.9 million, a figure that includes cost estimates for some finishing touches to be carried out this summer. The county received $1.5 million in grant funds for the project.

Building and Plant Director Tim Winter said the overages are because of issues that arose after the project’s original budget was developed.

“There were some items that came up in the final design,” Winter said.

One of the main additions to the project was a fire sprinkler system. Winter said other overages are attributable to unanticipated mechanical work costs to make the county campus more energy efficient. For example, the county had to replace an entire heating and cooling control system that was more than 20 years old.

“Those were overages we thought for the safety and effectiveness of the building were appropriate,” said Winter, who noted that in 2007 the county was anticipating a growth in its personnel rather than this year’s dramatic budget cuts including the pay cut and a hiring freeze.

The booming construction climate of 2007 also made for a less competitive bid market and reduced the project’s contingency budget. Winter said contractor Holmquist-Lorenz Construction was not responsible for any of the overages.

“They did a really excellent job,” Winter said. “They were a very good contractor to work with.”

County officials said it made sense to go over budget to cover all their bases at one time and complete all anticipated maintenance for the next 10 to 15 years.

“It was a good time to invest in it, even though it cost us more on the budget,” County Commissioner Doug Monger said. “We basically have a refurbished structure all the way through the whole thing.”

Monger said the county achieved all its goals with the project, which included consolidating county employees at the downtown campus and preserving the historic courthouse while also converting it into an efficient and usable work space.

“I think we’re very happy with it,” Monger said. “It brings a historic building into a fully functional facility.”

Mitsch Bush said the remodel will save taxpayers money in the county’s operational budget through energy savings and enhanced worker productivity. Winter said the remodeled courthouse and annex are using about 20 percent less natural gas than before the work. Winter said he would have additional information on energy performance later this year.

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