The cost of renovating the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen’s headquarters in downtown Penticton has now ballooned by nearly $200,000.
The latest cost hike came Thursday when directors approved by a 14-2 vote spending $58,518 for all new carpeting inside 101 Martin Street.
Combined with the added expense of swapping out existing light fixtures for more energy efficient models and replacing the building’s roof, the total cost of the makeover has now climbed to $540,125, well above the initial budget of $365,800.
“What I am concerned about is where we started when we voted this in last year to where we are now,” said Helena Konanz, a Penticton city councillor and RDOS director.
“How did whoever plan it not know there would we holes in the ground where walls were taken out? Why was that cost not included in the original plan?” she asked.
“It’s just an unknown,” replied public works manager Roger Huston.
“I don’t think (the architect) could itemize actually what would be done, what was exactly under the walls and what would be needed.”
Judy Sentes, a Penticton city councillor and RDOS director, argued in favour of the new floor covering, calling the existing carpet “embarrassing.”
“If you take on any renovation, it’s the last 10 per cent that makes or breaks it, in my opinion, and the last 10 per cent is the carpet,” she said.
“We have to put value on the workplace for our staff…. Hopefully we have another 20 years in this building.”
According to a staff report, the building would have required at least $16,000 worth of carpet repairs anyway to cover up bare patches where walls were torn out.
The $174,325 worth of add-ons will be covered by an energy efficiency grant, which could have been otherwise used to bring down the total cost of the build or kept in the bank for another project.
The balance of the cost will be split almost equally as planned through a combination of a one-time tax increase this year and reserve funds.
The two votes in opposition to the increased cost were from Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, who suggested some of the money be spent on an audio system for the board room, and Area G director Elef Christensen, who argued the RDOS should make do with the existing carpet and put the funds towards a different project to lessen the burden on taxpayers.
Directors last month turned down a staff request to spend $31,960 to repaint interior walls not affected by the renovation.
Work on the 1,000-square-metre building began this fall and is expected to be complete in February. It’s meant to improve space utilization, energy efficiency and address some structural problems.
The office at 101 Martin Street is 30 years old and has never before had a major facelift.