The addition of two new Clark County councilors will likely come with a six-figure price tag for office space, despite two unused offices available in the council’s administrative area.
Acting County Manager Mark McCauley estimates it will cost anywhere between $194,052 and $305,052 to provide the two new members of the county with furnished offices and computers by the time they take office in January.
The county will likely tear out a currently existing conference room in the council’s sixth-floor office and split it into two offices, McCauley said. Both will be the same size and shape as the other councilors’ offices, with picture windows offering similar views.
There are already five microphone jacks on the county dais, McCauley added.
The offices and dais were originally designed with possible expansions in mind, he added.
“It was assumed at some point we would go to five,” McCauley said.
There are, however, two currently unused offices in the county council administrative offices. But the current offices are smaller and have no exterior windows.
“They’re lesser offices,” McCauley said. “We’ve made use of them for other purposes, but certainly if the board wanted to put (the new councilors) there, we could easily repurpose them to do it.”
McCauley joked at a council board time meeting last week that going with that option would create a “low-rent” and a “high-rent” district in the county offices, but Councilor David Madore jumped on the comparison.
“I do like the idea that everyone’s a peer and everyone gets the same kind of office,” Madore said.
Madore, a Republican who is running for the at-large county chair seat, said he did not want to send a message that two new councilors are somehow less valuable than the other three.
“We’re all peers,” Madore said. “Everyone gets a view.”
“The no-cost option saves a couple hundred thousand dollars,” McCauley responded.
“It sends the wrong message,” Madore said.
Councilor Jeanne Stewart, however, said she’d like to consider moving the new councilors into the existing offices.
“I don’t think when people passed the charter they were envisioning a $300,000 remodel,” Stewart said.
It isn’t the first time county facilities have undergone a remodel to ensure that every elected official has a suitable private office.
A $5.4 million remodel of the Clark County Courthouse meant each judge had his or her own courtroom and office. For seven years, three of the county’s Superior Court judges had to share one courtroom, and three different judges at one point resided in “the closet,” a small windowless room converted into an office.
McCauley will present the cost estimates to the Clark County council during its board time today.