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Spaulding defends cost of rebuilding ANR building - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Spaulding defends cost of rebuilding ANR building

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WATERBURY, Vt. -

Officials say tearing down cubical walls and moving toward an open concept was the best way to pack in almost 400 more employees into the National Life Building in Montpelier.

"What we've tried to do is look for the most cost effective option for re-housing the Agency of Natural Resources and this turns out to be the case," said Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding.

But the price tag for renovating several floors and moving around other state agencies to accommodate for the influx -- is about $8.5 million.

If you look around what would be the cost of building a new office space for 400 employees it would be substantially more than $8 million," Spaulding said.

He is defending the plan against an Associated Press story Monday that claims the final bill is far greater than an estimate the committee approving the project had last year of $2 million. Spaulding says that's a number he can't corroborate.

"When the legislature went home, we didn't have a budget for what it was going to cost at that time we know it was going to be less than building a new office space," he explained. He says a budget didn't come in until late fall 2012 -- and at that point it was at about $7.5 million.

When you're dealing with large construction projects that have some features in it that might turn out a little differently than the original estimate, you have to expect those kinds of things," he said of the million dollar jump to $8.5 million. "So I don't see anything unexpected here at all.

Spaulding says the final plans downsize the amount of square feet per person and have modern designs to promote productivity. He says he's pleased with the final result.

"It is not luxurious. it is new, and it is different and we believe it's the most cost effective way to deliver the office space for our employees."

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