When bids to build a new county jail were opened last month in Paris, they came in a little higher than anticipated.
Last week, Logan County Judge Ray Gack said one of the reasons is the bids were for building a 132-bed jail, something the county doesn’t want to do. Instead, the county wants to build a 100-bed jail on property on South Lowder Street in Paris.
“They took bids on a building that won’t be built,” Gack said. “We’re going to build what we told the people we were going to build and that’s a 100-bed jail.”
Based on bids submitted, the cost of the jail was going to be $13.8 million, which is $800,000 more than the county has to spend and $3.8 million more than the $10 million Gack wants to spend. After making some cuts, the cost of building the jail dropped to $12.4 million. So, more cuts were made, such as removing the courtroom inside the building and building a one-story jail instead of the planned two-story building.
Gack said last week, that beds in the jail were going to cost $14,000 each, meaning the additional 32 beds were adding $448,000 to the projected cost, based on bids submitted.
And, Gack can’t explain why bids were taken on a 132-bed jail.
“I don’t really know why that happened,” Gack said. “I have no idea where that came from.
“I think the extra beds had an impact on the bids,” Gack said.
Since learning bids were based on a 132-bed jail, Gack has instructed the construction management firm, Circle M Construction Management of Ratcliff, to make the suggested changes and request new bids on a 100-bed facility. Gack remains hopeful that new bids can be opened sometime in August.
Justice of the Peace Mike Schluterman, chairman of the Quorum Court’s jail committee, said the whole thing was apparently a case of miscommunication and misunderstanding.
“We were surprised when they told us the bids were for a 132-bed jail,” Schluterman said. “We were all in agreement that we wanted a 100-bed jail. A 132-bed jail isn’t what we told people we would do. So, we asked for a re-bid. It was apparently a misunderstanding. People can misunderstand and people can miscommunicate.”
Gack also said he believes, based on some numbers he’s seen, that a 100-bed jail can be built for around $8 million.
“That’s based on actual figures on actual jails that have been built,” Gack said.
“When we asked them to rebid, we told them we wanted a 100-bed jail and we told them we wanted an estimate of costs, too,” Gack said. “I want to do what we told the taxpayers we would do.”
The county is building a new jail because the present facility, located on Grober Street in Paris and built in the 1980s, has consistently been cited for violations of jail standards, ruled overcrowded, understaffed and unsafe. Last July, voters approved a 1 percent increase in county sales taxes. The tax receipts will allow issuing up to $13 million in bonds to build and maintain a new facility. In November, $10 million in bonds were sold.
Site preparation work is being done and construction is anticipated to take up to two years.