Pueblo's elected leaders are peeved that the city is currently $1.4 million over budget in its ongoing effort to remodel Pueblo's historic City Hall building. Councilmembers there are comparing the project to their experience with the construction of Pueblo's Municipal Justice Center in 2008, when costs rose some $13 million above original estimates. But Pueblo shouldn't feel bad. In Denver, the new Justice Center Complex completed last year ended up costing $66 million more than expected -- and nobody even noticed.
Such is life in the big city. Denver International Airport was billions of dollars over budget when it opened in 1995. The cost of completing FasTracks transit projects throughout the metro area is facing a $2.2 billion shortfall.
When voters approved a bond package to construct a new county jail, courthouse and other safety facilities in 2005, the price tag was $378 million. But fluctuations in construction prices and other unforeseen costs drove the tab up to $444 million. City officials were lucky that they had extra money from bond premiums to pull from and land parcels that they could sell off in order to close the budget gap. Otherwise, the political fallout might have been bad.
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And who might it have landed on? Well, the official who initially headed the justice center project, James Mejia, is currently running for mayor. Michael Roberts has interviewed all the mayoral candidates; read his profile of James Mejia here.