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Committee Cuts Executive Building from Capitol Project

In a rare example of decision making, the Capitol Oversight Committee voted unanimously to approve a new design option for the Herschler building, one without an executive building. This will likely be the first of many reductions in the scope of the over-budget Capitol Square project. It’s too bad it takes a fiscal crisis for our governing class to be more efficient about space and tax dollars.

And let’s hope this is not just an attempt to free up cash to continue building a Taj Mahal next door.

The Capitol Square project includes more than just the Capitol renovation itself. It also includes repairs to the Herschler building, improvements to the connector between the Capitol and the Herschler, and the cost of temporary facilities for staff during the renovation. An executive building to house the Secretary of State, the Treasurer and State Auditor was also a part of the project. A few months ago, after considerable lobbying, these elected officials were moved back to the Capitol itself. As the raison d’etre of the building is gone, so too now is the building.

When the Capitol Oversight Committee met on Monday October 5, 2015 to discuss the Herschler building renovation it, for a change, discussed ways to save money. The new project manager, David Hart from MOCA Systems, said he was using a concept known as value engineering to lower costs. To save money, the project manager recommended nixing the new executive building and using the Herschler building itself more efficiently.

It was about time.

The Wyoming Liberty Group has been calling for the elimination of the executive building since July.

In addition, one of WyLiberty’s supporters Howard Last, published in a letter to the editor to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on June 10th asking why there had been no value engineering review of the project. As Mr. Last explained in his letter, value engineering is a procedure engineers use to save costs while maintaining building functionality. The federal government requires it on most projects.

Eliminating the executive building and using space more efficiently is great news for taxpayers. Too bad it took a public outcry and a downward revision in state revenues for committee members to get focused on value for money and functionality.

The cost of the Herschler renovation started at $86 million. In an enlightening example of government math, when the project manager said the cost was now $32 million over budget, his base was not the original $86 million, but $100 million. With the budget now sitting at $132 million, seems the Capitol Oversight Subcommittee decided it was time make decisions.

In a rather surprising move from a government dedicated to growth, eliminating the executive building and increasing the size of the Herschler actually reduces total square footage by about 10,000 square feet. The Herscher’s size increases by expanding the walls out to cover what are now planters on the south side of the building. Although the entire proposal reduces the Herschler footprint, because space is used more efficiently, government won’t lose much leasable space. Wow, just like a real company using its own money. Go figure.

In addition to nixing the four-story addition, the fancy tourist center in the connector will take a more practical turn and will now be used for extra committee rooms.

Although this is a move in the right direction, the architect and construction manager still haven’t said whether the project is within budget. With falling revenue and a Taj Mahal in the making next door, it seems likely we will see more downward revisions in the scope of the Capitol Project.

Reading Law
The burden of ever-inflating government

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Thursday, 19 October 2017
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