Security construction ‘coming along nicely’ at Gov. Spencer Cox’s home in rural Utah. It’s also over budget.

Planning for the project began before the governor took office and lawmakers approved the spending months later.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Governor Spencer Cox speaks during The PBS Utah Governor's Monthly News Conference, Dec. 16, 2021 at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City.

Plans to install costly taxpayer-funded security upgrades at Gov. Spencer Cox’s home in rural Utah were underway before he took his oath last year. Publicly available documents show the total budget for those security enhancements — which include a security office, fencing around the property and iron gates — is $629,339.

That is more than the $500,000 lawmakers slipped into a Capitol security complex bill last year to pay for security upgrades on Cox’s property in rural Sanpete County.

Construction at Cox’s property is well underway according to comments from the project manager. The most recent construction notes say, “The house is coming along nicely,” but construction on the roof was delayed to wait for an HVAC part.

The project summary shows $486,019.36 has already been paid out on the project, including $423,567 for construction.

The design portion of the project is over budget by more than $23,000.

Still left to be spent are $6,100 for furnishings and equipment and $30,000 for information technology. An additional $4,393 was spent on hazardous material abatement and removal, which was not included in the original budget.

The project summary does not detail any spending for fencing or gates, which were referenced in the plans for the security office. Eventually, a 6-foot fence will surround Cox’s property. A wrought-iron fence along with two iron lift gates will secure the front of the property, with a 6-foot high chain-link fence around the remaining portions.

Cox was elected governor on Nov. 3, 2020. The Dec. 9 date on the project indicates the preparations for these security upgrades began shortly after Cox’s victory. After refusing to comment for the Tribune’s initial story about the security upgrades, Cox took to Twitter, where he said he was approached by the Utah Department of Public Safety to discuss security issues.

The money for the improvements was never publicly disclosed at any time before The Tribune revealed the spending last week.

The average price of a home in Sanpete county Utah is $322,500, according to the real estate website Redfin.

It’s also not clear when legislative leaders gave the go-ahead for the spending. The cost was wrapped into HB222, which provided funding for security enhancements at the Utah State Capitol. That bill was first introduced on Feb. 19, 2021, more than two months after planning started for the project on Cox’s property.

The Tribune reached out to Cox’s office for comment on Monday, Jan. 31, but they have not responded.