Commissioners had previously said they were envisioning a roughly $3.1 million budget for the project, but had second thoughts on Tuesday.
“I would love to get up to the $3 million mark, but realistically, I don’t think we can get up there right now,” said Commissioner Joe Tilden.
Commissioners have committed $1.6 million of county money for the project and have been told they have a good chance of getting another $500,000 from the state of Wyoming.
The thought was that another $1 million could come from the fair board and others raising money from the community.
As much as she would like to say $1 million is doable, “$500,000 is much more accomplishable,” board member Linda Brazelton said.
Commissioner Tim French noted it’s possible that less than $500,000 will be raised. If that happens, commissioners said the county might have to pony up additional money or trim the building plans.
The idea is that the new multi-use facility would generally have a large, open area that could be divided into smaller spaces to house exhibits during the fair and other events for the general public the rest of the year.
“The fair board seems happy as long as we get exhibit space because that’s what we’re really losing” with the demise of the old exhibit halls, said Fair Board President Mike Demoney.
In addition to bathrooms, the hope is that the facility would also include a commercial kitchen — all designed with the ability to expand in the future.
In-line with earlier hopes for the new building, Kane Morris of Point Architects in Cody had initially drawn up a 29,000 square foot concept that he guessed would cost somewhere around $6 million. But Morris said the design can easily be scaled to the county’s needs.
“Pure and simple: you got a budget, then it’s designed to that budget,” Morris said.
The new building is replacing roughly 13,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. Morris had called $2.5 million “the very minimum” of what the county would have to pay for a 13,000 square foot facility.
Commissioners later said they believed the estimate — based on a cost of $200 a square foot — is conservative.
“$200 a square should get you quite a bit,” said Commissioner Lee Livingston.
Everyone, however, noted the cost is unknown until blueprints have been drawn and contractors submit bids.
The commission was tightening up the building plans on Tuesday because the county faces a Sept. 18 deadline to apply for a state grant.
Efforts to find private grants for the new facility previously went nowhere, but commissioners and staff wonder if they might find the process easier with a firmer plan in hand.