LAO 2006-07 Budget Analysis: Capitol Outlay

Analysis of the 2006-07 Budget Bill

Legislative Analyst's Office
February 2006

Department of Developmental Services (4300)

The Department of Developmental Services operates five state-owned developmental centers (Agnews, Fairview, Lanterman, Porterville, and Sonoma) and two small leased developmental centers (Canyon Springs and Sierra Vista). All of the seven facilities are 24-hour residential care facilities with over 4,400 beds capacity. The state-owned developmental centers have about 5.3 million square feet of space. The budget includes $23.7 million for a new kitchen project at Porterville Developmental Center.

Fund Only Preliminary Plans for New Main Kitchen

We recommend the Legislature fund only preliminary plans for a new main kitchen at Porterville Developmental Center, requiring a funding shift from lease-revenue bonds to the General Fund. We recommend the Legislature not fund the satellite kitchens’ preliminary plans because (1) the proposal does not specifically addresses the deficiencies that the department has noted and (2) the number of satellite kitchens could decrease within five years. (Reduce Item 4300-301-0660[1] by $22,557,000 and replace with $1,136,000 in General Fund. Also reduce Item 4300-301-0001[1] by $1,177,000.)

Porterville Kitchen Project. The Governor’s budget includes $22.5 million in lease-revenue bonds to prepare preliminary plans and working drawings, and to construct a new main kitchen at Porterville Developmental Center. The new main kitchen would replace a seismically deficient kitchen with functionally deficient equipment. The budget also includes about $1.2 million from the General Fund for the department to prepare preliminary plans for the renovation of 24 satellite kitchens, one for each housing unit at Porterville. The estimated future cost of the satellite kitchens’ renovation is $19.4 million (General Fund).

Current Food Preparation System. The Porterville facility currently has a cook-chill method of food preparation. Main kitchen staff cooks food in large batches that are quickly frozen in blast chillers. The frozen food is transported to the satellite kitchens where it is reheated and served on individual plates. Every day approximately 2,400 meals are served at Porterville.

Main Kitchen Requires Large-Scale Facility Repairs. The existing main kitchen has a number of deficiencies, such as a leaky roof and an inadequate air-conditioning system. The main kitchen is also seismically deficient. During an initial review, the Department of General Services determined that it would be more expensive to repair and seismically retrofit than to construct a new one. In addition, much of the main kitchen equipment is not functioning properly due to having exceeded the equipment’s useful life and a lack of proper maintenance. The deficient equipment has led to many citations for health violations.

Preliminary Plans Provide Detailed Project Scope. Preliminary plans include a detailed project scope description (exactly what will be built and why), a site plan, architectural floor plans, building elevations, outline specifications, and a detailed cost estimate. The completion of preliminary plans is important because they provide the initial design documents used to prepare the construction documents. Without completed preliminary plans, any project cost estimate is merely a “best guess” estimate concerning the final scope and cost of the project.

Complete Preliminary Plans Prior to Funding Construction. The proposed new main kitchen and satellite kitchen renovation project is complex and large in scope, and will take several years to complete. If lease-revenue bonds are used to fund the project as requested, the Legislature would have to authorize funding for preliminary plans, working drawings, and construction at one time. This is because lease-revenue bonds cannot be used without the assurance that a project will be constructed. Thus, lease-revenue bonds cannot be used to fund only preliminary plans. However, authorizing a project’s full funding prior to defining the project’s scope reduces the Legislature’s oversight of the project. To ensure project oversight, we recommend that the Legislature wait to fund the working drawings and construction phase of the project until it has had an opportunity to review preliminary plans. Funding only preliminary plans for the project would necessitate the use of General Fund money. Accordingly, we recommend funding the Porterville new main kitchen preliminary plans from the General Fund at a cost of $1,136,000. Once a detailed cost estimate from the preliminary plans is complete, the Legislature could provide funding for working drawings and construction of the project from lease-revenue bonds.

Satellite Kitchens Project Lacks Sufficient Information. The Porterville proposal does not include sufficient justification for renovating all of the 24 satellite kitchens, one in every housing unit. Nine of these satellite kitchens are inside the secure perimeter (where violent forensic patients are housed), and 15 are outside the secure perimeter. However, based on the department‘s population projections, Porterville may soon not need all of the 15 housing units outside the secure perimeter. The patient population outside of the secure perimeter fence has fallen from 518 to 422 in the last five years, and by 2007 the department projects it to drop to 368. By the time the proposed satellite kitchens renovation would be complete (in 2010), the patient population outside of the secure perimeter may require fewer housing units.

The proposal also did not sufficiently demonstrate why the satellite kitchens needed all the proposed extensive renovations. The department cites the following deficiencies in the satellite kitchens: insufficient freezer storage space, not enough sinks, and lack of air-conditioning. The proposal, however, calls for: new windows, equipment, and worktables; employee lockers; air conditioning installation; electrical upgrades; and replacement of flooring, ceiling, and wall finishes. Accordingly, we recommend the Legislature reject the proposed General Fund appropriation of $1.2 million for satellite kitchen renovation preliminary plans. The department should instead submit a proposal that addresses (1) the projected drop in patient population and (2) the specific deficiencies in the satellite kitchens that the department has noted.

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