County proposes $49.5M fix to gov’t building crisis

El Paso County hopes to purchase office space at the former Intel complex.

El Paso County hopes to purchase office space at the former Intel complex.

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.

9 Responses to County proposes $49.5M fix to gov’t building crisis

  1. But no where did I see staff reduction savings which would result in reduced staff costs and surely with current conditions (ie. business down) there is not the participation in public offices, record keeping etc. etc. Private enterprise is having to address cost savings why not government.

    Sounds like the County administrator’s proposal might have addressed only part of the problem. The rest of fixes needed might be addressed in an upcoming bond proposal? Which we have seen happen before.

    Seems it works that way a lot of the time.
    Sincerely,
    S. Martin

    S. Martin
    June 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm

  2. ……. a great idea, if it works.
    …….. i’m sure there’ll be many who’ll be glad to see more office workers & clientel in the GOGRd corridor.
    ….. now, get Centennial Blvd. built thru to the freeway !

    Like it'll matter .....
    June 1, 2010 at 3:45 pm

  3. S. Martin – You are part of a chorus that continues to repeat the same mantra – repetitive but not thoughtful. It is akin to me suggesting that you spend far too much on junk food, when I have no idea what you spend. It would be far more productive if you would spend some time studying the budget and understanding what County government has already done in the way of cost reductions and savings. With an understanding of the budget – not simple I grant you – you could participate more effectively be engaging in useful conversation.
    This sounds like a carefully analyzed approach that can have multiple benefits.

    Rob Gentrie
    June 1, 2010 at 4:08 pm

  4. USOC was one thing, now El Paso is going to leverage us taxpayers out…..when will the BS stop.

    Ken G
    June 1, 2010 at 8:52 pm

  5. The moves sound logical EXCEPT – BIggest concern – How do the people needing H&HS services GET to the Intel building? Bus service better improve dramatically out that direction – is there a line item to pay the city for that? Now the buildings are where the people are – then the people will have to figure out how to get to where services are, and we are talking many many people without cars.

    Jane
    June 2, 2010 at 12:23 am

  6. Incredibly fiscally irresponsible on the part of the government employees – elected and hired. Is this not a High-Rent area? Does this action take a badly needed high tax revenue producing property off the books? Would it be a better financial decision to rent the building so that it continues to produce tax revenues?

    Would it be a great idea to elect fiscally responsible government employees?

    tom
    June 2, 2010 at 6:41 am

  7. @Tom

    I’d have to go with “yes” on that one, haha. By that, I mean, “Yes, we shoudl elect fiscally responsible government employees.” And I’m not talking just locally.

    Chuck
    June 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm

  8. Ok. So as county elected officials. we spend years pandering to the ‘no-tax’ crowd in order to stay in office by telling the public how well the county is doing for so little money. We repeatedly, at BoCC meetings, remind the public that EPC has the lowest tax rates on the state.

    Then, defer maintenance on publicly owned buildings to the point they are no longer usable because of the low tax rates.

    So the obvious answer is to just go out and buy a new one with ‘free’ money.

    My question: where is the free money going to come from to maintain this building?

    Rick Wehner
    June 3, 2010 at 6:27 am

  9. I concur with Jane above. The Health and Human Services department on Spruce and the Health Department on Union are currently where the people who need the services are. If these offices move to the Intel building what plans does the county have for helping the people who need the services get to where they need to go? Do they intend to expand bus lines to the new site?

    I have worked with the uninsured/underinsured populations of our community for the past five years. Transportation is a major barrier to available services. Does the county intend to add to the problem or figure out ways to alleviate them instead?

    Ruth
    June 5, 2010 at 4:16 pm