Franklin County Jail image

The Finance Committee approved the forwarding of a $296,000 change-order list for the Franklin County Jail addition to the Franklin County Commission to consider at its Monday meeting.

The commission will meet at 7 p.m. at the courthouse.

The commission recently approved a $2 million bond issue to cover additional jail costs, and the Finance Committee approved the partial list at its Sept. 2 meeting. The $296,000 is included in the $2 million bond which was approved in June.

The jail project’s final cost is being increased by $1.98 million with the $2 million bond issue giving the project $20,000 in head room.

The jail expansion’s projected cost was $8.9 million. However, after bids were received, the actual cost had escalated to $12.4 million.

Other changes had set the cost at $14.6 million. With an additional $1.98 million, the new total is $16.58 million, an increase of 13.5 percent over the $14.6 million.

The committee reviewed the jail’s financial status on June 5, and estimates were that it would take another $1.5 million to finish the project, setting the total at $16.1 million.

However, Finance Director Andrea Smith recommended a meeting be set involving project managers, Finance Department personnel and County Mayor David Alexander prior to the June 12 special Finance Committee meeting to ensure the numbers were on target so additional money beyond the $1.5 million would not have to be borrowed later.

The commission later agreed on the $2 million bond issue after the estimates set the amount needed to finish the addition at $1.98 million.

The Finance Committee approved to forward seven change orders to the commission, including:

▪ A metal work ceiling totaling $254,736 for contractor and related project fees.

▪ Labor, materials and equipment to frame the ceiling totaling $4,630.

▪ 24-foot by 24-foot access panels for a lockdown area totaling $3,800.

▪ 28-gauge sheet metal panels totaling $4,176.

▪ Floor installation in the booking area and concrete work in a men’s wrecking yard area totaling $9,295.

▪ Epoxy paint totaling $2,782.

▪ Metal stud framing and related work in a bulkhead area totaling $17,211.15.

Tom Smith, construction manager with Southeast Contractors Inc., which is overseeing the jail expansion, said a need to add smoke-extraction infrastructure in the addition’s booking area has added to the project’s cost and other issues have led to change orders to garner state Fire Marshal’s Office approval.

He said recently that the project faced difficulty from the outset by trying to develop plans to align the new addition with the older structure that was built in 1997.

He said it was difficult to line up water and sewer connections, and other issues surfaced when differences were discovered between the new plans and the old facility’s design.

Sheriff Tim Fuller has said the original jail, which was completed in 1997, faced an obstacle with opposition from a County Commission decision that failed by one vote in 1995.

The County Commission was considering a larger facility that would have been about the size of the 282 total inmate capacity of the jail and the new addition.

Fuller said the jail and the Criminal Justice Center could have been built for a combined $5.4 million at the time.

However, the issue failed, and the commission opted for a smaller, 140-bed facility at $4.1 million after delaying the project, and associated inflation upped the cost of the larger facility.

Fuller said the county had no alternative but to build the smaller jail facility because it was facing an $8 million lawsuit, initiated by the Department of Justice for jail overcrowding. He added that the department waived the lawsuit after the county agreed to build the jail.

The commission later approved to build the Judicial Center in 2008 at a $7.2 million cost.

The new addition will add $16.58 million to a $27.88 million total cost — including the $4.1 original jail project and the $7.2 million Judicial Center — to get to where the county could have been at $5.4 million if the initial project had been approved.

The jail’s current square footage is 34,689 feet, and the expansion will add another 12,629 feet to set the total available space at 47,318 square feet.

The additional square footage will more than double the jail’s inmate capacity from the current 140 to 282

Smith and Matthew Bobo, also a construction manager, recently said that although the square footage increase is 36 percent, the inmate capacity can be doubled because additional space will be in dormitory type, open-room accommodations instead of two- to four-man cells which reduce inmate-per-square-foot capacity.