The El Paso County administrator is proposing to fix the county’s building woes in part with a $25 million purchase of two buildings at Corporate Ridge, the former Intel complex.
Hundreds of workers would be moved to new space under the plan. No new tax dollars would be required.
The Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Health and Environment, Pikes Peak Workforce Center and the Office of Emergency Management would all eventually shift into the new location if commissioners approve the plan next week.
Earlier this year, the county’s citizen budget oversight committee identified $385 million in capital needs over the next three decades. County administrators went to work to find ways to meet those capital needs and presented their plan today before the county board of commissioners. Their proposal would cost considerably less, they said.
The health department, coroner’s office, HHS and the Sheriff’s law enforcement bureau were in “immediate” need of new space and upgraded facilities, officials said.
“We have to ask ourselves, what’s the cost of doing nothing?” said Jeff Greene, county administrator. “Catastrophic failure is imminent. There could be destruction of the building, equipment, furniture, records and evidence.”
Energy costs are also a heavy burden on the county’s budget. Part of the package proposed by Greene includes a $13.1 million contract with Honeywell to upgrade the county’s buildings and make them more energy-efficient.
“They’ve guaranteed us in the contract that we’ll save $700,000 a year in energy costs,” Greene said. “If we don’t, then they cut us a check (for the difference).”
The plan was designed to reduce maintenance costs, reduce off-site storage and increase parking spaces for the public, he said. The county also would consolidate some services – the clerk and recorder’s offices, the county assessor and the treasurer’s office, for instance – to improve customer service.
Under the plan:
– Centennial Hall would hold the offices of the board of county commissioners, the county administration, county attorney, finance department and public information offices.
– The current county office building will be refurnished to include the sheriff’s law enforcement bureau, administrative functions and training academy.
– The sheriff’s training academy will become the home of the coroner’s administration. The morgue will be expanded and all pathology functions will be moved to that building.
– The existing buildings housing the health department and HHS will be sold, and the money used to pay down the debt.
The total cost of all these moves is $49.5 million, Greene said. Money saved from ending existing leases, as well as local and federal reimbursements, will save the county about $3.1 million a year.
The county will finance the rest using a combination of Build America bonds and tax-exempt lease-purchase securities. The interest rate on these “hybrid” bonds is about 3.98 percent, Greene said.
“This plan addresses 30 years of needs, at a cost much lower than $385 million,” he said. “And it does it without tax increases or service reductions.”
The commissioners will vote on the plan at their next meeting, June 8.
Click here to view the presentation made to commissioners today.