Jan 29, 2013 7:57 PM by David Ortiviz
Construction is underway on the new Pueblo County Judicial Complex, which is now estimated to cost $185 million over the next three decades. That amount is triple the original pricetag. The actual cost to construct the building is still about $55 million, but the interest on loans will cost the county about $135 million over the next thirty years.
According to the county's finance director Calvin Hamler this project has doubled the county's debt.
"I was worried the timing may not be right," said Hamler.
Hamler says he raised his concerns with former county commissioners, but in December 2011 they still voted to approve the project by a two to one vote. Commissioners Jeff Chostner and Anthony Nunez voted in support of it, while commissioner John Cordova voted against it.
A new board of commissioners took over in January and inherited the $185 million in debt. "The three commissioners in Pueblo County are committed to looking at other legal financing methods that may help reduce the debt service," said Buffie McFadyen, Pueblo County Commissioner. "Instead of just playing arm chair quarter back and criticizing the last commission, I know we want to solve this problem," she added.
Pueblo County says it may not be able to refinance for at least ten years.
Commissioner McFadyen says she's now concerned the county won't have enough money to open the complex once construction is finished.
"We may have to delay the opening, until we can secure the appropriate amount of staff and security and make sure we can cover the utilities," said McFadyen.