The final price of shutting down former premier Alison Redford's infamous "sky palace" rose higher Thursday — but the Opposition Wildrose party and the government locked horns over how much.
Wildrose member Kerry Towle announced Thursday that a freedom of information document search revealed a new bill of $930,000 for luxury elements to the proposed penthouse suite for Redford on a government building.
That's five times the Progressive Conservative government's original estimate of $173,000 in May.
"The PCs have spent more money on the millwork in the sky palace than everyday Albertans make in a year," said Towle at a news conference in front of the Federal Building, home of the penthouse.
The change orders include $45,000 for drapes, $43,000 for stone and porcelain wall and floor tiles, $25,000 for paint and vinyl wall coverings, and $97,000 for custom millwork.
There were change orders for Tyndall stone around doors and sills, canopy luminaires, landscape lighting, and ballistic doors and frames.
Infrastructure Minister Manmeet Bhullar and government officials disputed that number.
"In fact, associated costs were only $239,500," said Bhullar in a statement, adding that the Wildrose has "incorrectly interpreted government documents and made allegations that mislead the public."
The Wildrose provided line item documentation to arrive at its estimate.
Bhullar's office did not provide any data on how it reached the $239,500 number.
But in an interview, Neil McFarlane, the project director for government facilities, said while line items may have shown that material and work was linked to the penthouse, that was done for administrative convenience.
In reality, he said, the work and material was often spread out over other floors, and that the final number should be pro-rated.
"That's a more realistic impact of cost," said McFarlane.
He said the final estimate for construction costs was $101,000. When added to $138,500 for architectural and design fees, the final bill is $239,500.
That figure, however, is still higher than the $173,000 estimate provided to the legislature in May by Ric McIver, who was infrastructure minister at the time.
McIver said that money was for the designs, and no mention was made of other costs.
On Thursday, McFarlane said that $173,000 figure was too high because it represented work done on the floor below the penthouse. The true number for the penthouse design he reiterated, was $138,500.
The dispute is the latest chapter in what has become a labyrinthine tangle of who knew what and paid for what and when on the penthouse.
The suite, near the legislature, is now being turned into meeting rooms, but critics still hold it up as the symbol of a government that has lost its way in excess and entitlement.
Work on the penthouse was ongoing in secret before Redford, enmeshed in a scandal over lavish travel expenses, quit as premier in March.
Critics labelled it the "sky palace" because it was to be modelled after the five-star Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington D.C.
There were to be bedrooms for Redford and her daughter, a shared bathroom, a powder room, a walk-in closet, a butler's pantry and areas for dining, studying and lounging.
There would be grooming and changing areas, a fireplace and room-by-room temperature controls.
There has been confusion over who killed sky palace.
McIver has said he killed the plan in January. Former infrastructure minister Wayne Drysdale said he killed it a year earlier.
Drysdale and McIver both sit in the cabinet of Premier Jim Prentice.
Prentice has promised to eradicate the abuses of the Redford era and restore public trust in government.
He has promised no more money will be put into the penthouse and has indicated he may not ever visit the top floor.
But Towle said a premier is known by the company he keeps, and noted he is keeping McIver and Drysdale by his side.
"Instead of demoting them and sending a message that this kind of waste will not be tolerated, Mr. Prentice has put them in charge of departments totalling $2.4 billion in public spending," said Towle.
Drysdale is transportation minister and McIver is in charge of jobs and training.
This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.