Governor eyes special legislative session
CARSON CITY (AP) – Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn scheduled a meeting Monday with top aides and key legislative staffers to talk about the possible need for a special session to pay a $10.3 million judgment in a state construction contract dispute.
The governor “is trying to figure out what our options are,” Guinn chief of staff Keith Munro said. “Either we have to see whether we can stay the judgment or find out if we have the money to pay it.”
If a stay isn’t likely and money isn’t available from usual emergency sources to pay the contractor who built a veterans home in southern Nevada, a one-day special session could be convened to authorize the funding from a large state surplus. At the same time, lawmakers also could beef up a contingency fund normally tapped for fiscal emergencies.
The $10.3 million payment was ordered by an arbitration panel that determined the state Public Works Board and its architects – not contractor Addison Inc. – were responsible for costly construction delays at the veterans home in Boulder City.
If the governor waits until the regular 2007 legislative session to request the funds, the state could win up for about $800,000 in interest payments. A brief special session would cost about $50,000.
Guinn has said he considers a special session a “last resort,” and state attorneys have been looking for a way to overturn the arbitration panel’s decision. That decision is due to be filed this week in District Court in Las Vegas.
Addison lawyer Thomas Kummer has said less than 1 percent of appeals from binding arbitration are successful. He said a showing of fraud, corruption or other type of misconduct must be shown, and nothing like that happened in this case. Besides the judgment, the state has spent $3.9 million in legal fees and expert-witness costs in the dispute with Addison and its subcontractors, according to state Budget Director Andrew Clinger.
Following the arbitration panel decision, Guinn asked for and got Dan O’Brien’s resignation as manager of the Public Works Board. Guinn also said he would urge Nevada’s next governor to press for a board dominated by elected officials rather than the current system of appointees from the construction industry.
Munro noted Guinn sought a law change in 2005 that would have revised the board to include elected officials and some general public members, but the measure died.