ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Just months after their new headquarters opened, Bernalillo County is now asking for millions of dollars more to expand. However, some county commissioners say the upgrades would just be a waste of money. The county wants to build onto its Alvarado Square location with a new logo, bullet-proof windows, and an expanded health clinic but that all comes at a price of more than $4 million.
More than 10 years in the making, Bernalillo County finally moved into its new headquarters in the middle of downtown Albuquerque last summer. Now, some officials are already looking at putting another $4 million into the building. One of the proposals — more than $300,000 to paint a 38-foot county seal on the side of the building — didn’t sit well with some commissioners. Another proposal asked for millions to replace the existing original windows in the building.
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“To the tune of over $331,000, I question if that’s the wisest use of our money at this time,” said District 5 Commissioner, Charlene Pyskoty, discussing the seal before looking at the window proposal. “We haven’t been open to the public for about six months or so? And to replace the windows at this point for $2.6 million, I think that needs to be looked at.”
County officials say the reason this is needed now is that the windows are still under warranty. With plans to coat them in a ballistic film to prevent bullet damage like what happened last year, they prefer to do those on newer windows, rather than old ones.
“We want to get those windows replaced under that warranty,” said Jared Divett, director of Bernalillo County’s Fleet and Facilities Management Department. “Not necessarily stop a bullet being shot at the building but it would contain the glass which is the main problem we had with the last event.”
This request for millions in extra funding is just one more addition to a building price tag much more than its original plan. The county bought the building in 2017 for $2.7 million and said the project would cost around $36 million. In 2019, that cost jumped to $53 million and by last year, that was up to more than $67 million.
“Just the size of it is too big to just pass without discussion,” said District 4 Commissioner, Walt Benson. Commissioners voted to defer and will reconsider approving the funding during their next meeting in a few weeks.
County officials also hope to get $1.2 million in funding to build out a seventh-floor office that would become home to Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, along with adding more security measures and expanding the on-site health clinic. The funding would come from a combination of the county’s general fund, facility bonds, and employee self-health insurance fund, and existing funding approved for Alvarado Square for items that never came to fruition.