Members of Nevada's Interim Finance Committee told employees Thursday they agree completely that the Kinkead Building is unsafe, deteriorating and unacceptable as a state office building.
Engineers sharply criticized the building a block east of the Capitol in a structural report earlier this year, saying it contains numerous fire hazards and could collapse in an earthquake.
A fire marshal's inspection completed just last week found more than 400 violations in the building.
Former Buildings and Grounds Chief Mike Meizel once described it as the worst building the state ever constructed. He said he had tried for years to get it shut down.
Committee Chairman Bill Raggio, R-Reno, told workers a new office for the human resources department should be the "highest priority in the next session of the Legislature."
"This has been deferred too long," he said, noting that the building has been substandard since it was built in the 1970s.
Gov. Kenny Guinn included more than $25 million in his proposed budget to replace Kinkead with a new office building for the department of human resources. It will eventually be built next to the new Conservation and Natural Resources Building on Stewart Street.
It was Raggio who cut a deal which eliminated that project from this year's budget to fund a math and science building at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Director of Administration Perry Comeaux presented the finance committee with several options. He and Human Resources Director Mike Willden recommended leasing space in three available buildings in Carson City and moving the 350 human resources workers now in Kinkead out by the first of the year. That would cost about $5.2 million over the next four years, Comeaux told the committee. But that total, he said, includes $1.6 million to demolish Kinkead.
Comeaux said that would give the state enough time to build a new home for human resources by 2010.
They presented several other options but Assemblywoman Bonnie Parnell, D-Carson City, urged lawmakers to choose moving those workers out immediately for their safety. She said workers in the building are in danger in the six-story structure.
The State of Nevada Employees Association made the same request, arguing there is a danger employees could be trapped in burning stairwells in a fire or killed in a collapse if there is a quake.
Raggio said the issue would be on the November agenda as an action item.
He was joined by Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, who said the state must act to fix the situation.
If lawmakers agree to lease new quarters for human resources, that would include moving them out of the old Children's Home cottages at Fifth and Stewart streets as well. Those, too, would be shut down.
- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.