County looks for new options in jail contract

A final decision on the Guaranteed Maximum Price of Hays County’s jail expansion may not be made until after the New Year. 

On Nov. 7, Hays County Commissioners considered withdrawing the contract with Turner Construction Company (TCC) for its Public Safety Bond Program Phase II. By doing so, it could allow TCC to present a new GMP proposal at a later date.

SEE STORY: COUNTY JAIL EXPANSION OVER BUDGET BY $7M

Commissioners have not approved or rejected the existing contract and are considering a new third option.

In order to withdraw from the contract, an amendment has to be proposed and approved by the Commissioners Court. The new amendment would give the construction company some time to review the project and design documents and come back with a new GMP proposal in January 2018 for the court to review.

The project includes the jail addition, a new public safety building, training building and fleet maintenance, and bonding for jail renovation.

Hays County Attorney Mark Kennedy said at the Nov. 7 County Commissioners meeting that he is negotiating amendment terms with Turner Construction.

“Turner needs the ability to take the GMP they put on the table and take that off the table, and then come back with a new GMP proposal, likely in January,” Kennedy said. “We’re giving them a second chance and we’re wanting them to come back with a number we find more attractive.”

Kennedy says the construction company added a contingency or a buffer in the estimated budget to mitigate its risk, and can make a better estimate once construction documents are complete.

Currently, the construction documents are only 75 percent complete and should be completed sometime in December.

If the court meets in January and the new GMP is still not acceptable, the court will terminate the contract with Turner, and at that point see what the market says.

On Oct. 24 Turner Construction presented a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) that was $7.1 million over the county’s construction cost limitation (CCL), which was the original voter approved budget of $78 million.

The county is still negotiating the contract and has not made any move to approve Turner’s GMP since approval would mean the project would be over budget.

“It was either going to be $7.1 million dollars over the CCL or it would be a trimmed back scope that would save $7.1 million dollars off the property,” Kennedy said, “which was not acceptable.”

Several commissioners assured voters that the court has no intention of spending money that voters have not approved nor build something that has not been approved.

Hays County Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe said Nov. 7 that if there are any delays to the project, they would be minimal. She stressed that the project, including negotiating the contract, is still in progress.

The court approved Phase I of the project over the summer, which includes site work and fleet maintenance. Phase I is necessary to clear the way for next phases and is projected to be finished around the time that the second phase is to be approved in January if the court accepts the new amendment to the contract.

Phase 1 is reported under budget, however construction is still ongoing.

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