County jail expansion over budget by $7M

Seven million dollars is how much over budget the voter-approved project to expand and renovate the Hays County’s public safety facilities, including its jail, is.

As a result of the overrun, Hays County Commissioners took no action Tuesday on accepting or declining the proposed guaranteed maximum price (GMP) on its list of projects under Proposition 1 of the 2016 bond.

Mike Kaiman, vice president of Turner Construction, the company which Hays County hired to compile a GMP, presented county leaders with an update on the cost of its bond project.

Kaiman said the reason for the inflation of the GMP was a combination of the effects of three hurricanes, in addition to the lack of builders equipped to take on the project of the jail expansion and renovation.

Kaiman said Oct. 24 although Turner had 100 percent design development drawings, it did not yet have 100 percent construction documents.

Those construction documents are needed for the exact pricing and measurements required throughout the facilities.

Currently, the GMP for projects under Proposition 1 is $85,191,542.00. This amount is $7.1 million over the initial budget of $78 million.

The estimated total includes the jail addition, a new public safety building, training building and fleet maintenance, as well as bonding for the jail renovation.

Kaiman suggested the court either defers voting on the proposed GMP until Turner provides 100 percent construction documents in December, or that the court defers certain sections of the bond projects until a later date.

Commissioners gave Turner Construction an additional week to review the GMP and try to make changes to bring it down.

When they returned to court Oct. 31, the GMP was still higher than what voters approved last November.

“It’s still too high at this point,” Pct. 3 Commissioner Lon Shell said Oct. 31.

Hays County Pct. 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant said he was not going to vote to approve a GMP higher than what voters voted on. He reiterated that the issue of jail capacity was a priority for the county.

“I don’t intend to spend more money than voters approved,” Whisenant said.

Whisenant suggested giving Turner another chance to review the proposed GMP and identify priority projects that would meet the needs of taxpayers, instead of deflecting all the risk to the taxpayers of Hays County.

“We need to set priorities that will meet the needs of the taxpayers of Hays County,” Whisenant said.

Hays County Pct. 1 commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe was concerned Turner Construction was attempting to lessen its own liability with the proposed over budget GMP. Ingalsbe said commissioners needed to limit their liability to voters as well.

Hays County Attorney Mark Kennedy said they could renegotiate the contract with Turner Construction then revisit the GMP vote in January 2018.

He also asked commissioners to either wait to go to the market for bids until Turner reached 100 percent construction documents, or reject the proposed GMP and take the Competition Seal Proposals to a different builder.

“Contracts can always be negotiated,” Kennedy said.

A decision on how Hays County could approach its GMP could be made Nov. 7.

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