Public Works Board warned there’s no cash for projects

For the third straight budget cycle, the Public Works Board has been told there’s no money for anything except critical maintenance projects.

PWB Manager Gus Nuñez told the board Tuesday he estimates the state will have capacity to bond for about $65 million for the coming two-year cycle.

That is a drop in the bucket compared to the $560.4 million in requests filed by state agencies and the university system.

In addition, Nuñez said $10 million of the available capacity comes off the top, going to the university system for deferred maintenance projects, leaving the state with just $55 million to spend on General Fund projects.

“Most of that is going to have to go to deferred maintenance projects,” he said. “We’re going to be just doing what absolutely has to be done for the next two or three years.”

That means that, beyond repairing leaky roofs and fixing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning that breaks down, almost no projects have a chance of being funded.

But Nuñez said this year isn’t as bad as 2009 when there was just $30 million available for construction and maintenance work.

Projects that do have a chance for some funding are those which qualify for non-General Fund support. That includes those paid for with Highway Fund money or federal grants.

The largest project in that category would be construction of a new 96-bed veterans home for Northern Nevada. But in order to get the $34 million in federal funding, the state would have to come up with $14.1 million in matching funds.

The lack of bonding capacity, however, didn’t stop agencies from asking for projects they feel are necessary.

The Department of Corrections list includes 58 projects totaling $95.6 million.

The university system is asking for $151.1 million in General Fund and another $27.5 million in other money for 38 different projects. The biggest item on that list is $31.3 million in General Fund money to build the new Hotel College Academic Building at UNLV. The project actually costs more than $50 million but the rest is being paid for by a grant from Harrah’s corporation.

The final department with a long list of needs is the Department of Health and Human Services. DHHS’s list totals 40 projects costing $50.6 million.

The largest project on the list is the design and construction of a new juvenile correctional facility at Summit View for $15.46 million.

Altogether, the list of projects would require $443.4 million in General Fund or bond money and $116.9 million in other funding.


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