During a special meeting called by the Bourbon County Commission Thursday morning, architect Larry Goldberg fielded questions concerning the jail project and eased concerns about surpassing the budgeted amount of $6.85 million.
“There have been questions surfacing around our community,” commission chairperson Barbara Albright said, assuring county residents they need not worry about having to pay more for the project. “Our intent is for the jail to be completed at the amount we voted on.”
Goldberg, president of Goldberg Group Architects, explained that initially they are the bearers of bad news when it comes to projects such as the Law Enforcement Center of Bourbon County. Early in the design process, Goldberg said their estimates are very conservative. But as designs are finalized and bids are accepted, those estimates come down.
“I have a duty to tell you all the bad news,” Goldberg said. “When you start a project, you’re always looking at your highest, most conservative estimate.”
Currently, that estimate is more than $600,000 over the budgeted amount approved by voters. But Goldberg assured those at the meeting that if the project is still over budget when the plans and contractors are finalized, then they will modify the plans to ensure that the project remains within budget.
Some of the reasons it has come in above budget so far is due to a shortage of skilled labor available because of other large projects occurring in the Midwest, leading to fewer and higher bids, and a rise in the cost of steel from $2,100 per ton to about $3,500 a ton.
Goldberg said they have seen that price level out some and they hope the other projects will near completion before the local jail project begins, helping bring down the cost further.
The price also went up when the architects added 2,000 square feet so the jail would not just house the Sheriff’s department, but provide space for an emergency operations center that could serve as a secure control center for the community in a time of disaster or emergency. The area would also be used as an added squad room and training area.
The commissioners said they had not been aware that was the reason for the added square feet and said they would revisit the plan to make sure they believe it is necessary.
Other questions answered included why the sheriff’s office had to be moved into the new facility at all. Goldberg explained that is required by law in smaller jurisdictions. He also explained to questioners that his own company’s payments are included in the $6.85 million budget and will not go beyond that.
The high price to purchase the property was also discussed, with Goldberg saying they had estimated $150,000 for the purchase of land but it ended up costing $200,000. But with deals for other areas of land falling through, few options had remained to the commissioners as the project was delayed.
The county will be responsible for removing existing structures from the property, but the commissioners also pointed out that some utilities are already available on the property because it had been a commercial area. Just this past week the results of an environmental test also came back clean, continuing to clear the path to construction.
Another issue raised concerned whether the Sheriff’s Department would have to hire further personnel to cover the transport of prisoners, but members of the department said the project was planned with the current number of personnel in mind and said they should not have to hire any others.
With designs likely taking another couple months to be finalized and bids having to be accepted, construction is scheduled to begin in July if all goes well, with the project being completed approximately 13 months later.