BOC OKs Fund Transfer for New Jail
Commissioner Kelly Robinson dissented and said the current plans for the building are sufficient.
A savings of $1.49 million due to lower than expected project bids will enable officials with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office to complete their original scope for the new jail.
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 on Tuesday to accept the early release savings within the guaranteed maximum price and transfer the funds within the GMP budget to fund the original project scope. Commissioner Kelly Robinson voted against the two items, saying that while county officials could keep adding functions and features to the jail, the BOC must be mindful of the county’s money.
“You could consume every savings with oh, I didn’t get that. I didn’t get tinted windows. I didn’t get this,” Robinson said.
The scope originally approved by the BOC included two-person cells, high efficiency coolers and chillers, and a firing range. Deputy Chief Stan Copeland said that, thinking they were over budget, officials changed the plans from two-person to four-person cells on two levels, decided to purchase lower efficiency coolers and chillers, and eliminated plans for the firing range. But, since bids for the project came in lower than anticipated, Copeland said that those parts of the original scope can be put back into the project.
“Once the real numbers went out and the real bids came back, it was determined through the savings that we are able to afford those original scope items,” Copeland said.
Robinson suggested officials with the sheriff’s office consider putting 1,200 cells in the building rather than the 1,500 that are planned. That way, the jail can still have two-person cells and the county can still save money, the commissioner said.
“That jail is sufficiently a nice jail,” Robinson said. “There has to be balance. It’s important that we don’t consume our entire budget with public safety.”
However, Copeland says that, with an annual growth in inmate population of 5.5 percent, 1,500 beds is necessary for the $120 million detention facility that he hopes will last 20-25 years. Copeland said that as of Monday, there were 840 inmates in a jail that was built for approximately 450 people.
“We wanted to ensure that this jail would last as long as humanly possible for that type of monetary outlay by the citizens,” he said.
BOC Chairman Tom Worthan said that the county has put together the most professional and competent team in the country to build the facility.
“I think we’re within the scope,” Worthan said. “We’re certainly within our budget. We’re on time with this project, and I think we’re doing a fantastic job.”
Worthan said the two-person cells are necessary for officer safety in the jail.
“I certainly support this,” he said.
The new jail had an original construction budget of $106 million. That was cut over time by $5 million. Fees and other costs bring the total project budget to approximately $120 million. While it’s not designed to be able to build up, there is the capability of putting in an additional housing tower. The facility is expected to open in spring 2013.