Jail cost declines by $7 million

Apr. 25—ANDERSON — The projected cost of the planned new Madison County jail has been reduced by $7 million.

Consultant Eric Weflen Thursday said the most recent estimate is that the planned 528-bed facility will cost $103.3 million.

He explained the first estimate in January 2022 was $86.9 million

Weflen said the estimate by construction manager Garmong Construction in July, 2023 was $101.4 million.

He said the estimated construction cost is $92.3 million with a 10% contingency added.

"We won't find out the cost until the bids are received," Weflen said.

The latest estimates include soft costs such as the purchase of furniture.

Weflen said the $7 million savings is a result of not having to finance that amount.

Attorney Adam Steuerwald with the Indianapolis law firm of Barnes & Thornburg said last week the building corporation will purchase from the county for a temporary period of time the Madison County Government Center, Work Release Center and existing jail.

He said the county will pay the building corporation up to $30 million for the three facilities and once the new jail is completed, ownership will revert back to Madison County.

Steuerwald explained the county will not be responsible for making a bond payment until construction is completed.

That will lower the amount being financed for the jail by $7 million and reduce the interest payments.

Commissioner John Richwine said there is a lot of misinformation concerning the cost of the project.

"The latest estimate is $7 million lower than the initial estimate," he said.

The timeline is for the county to receive bids for construction in June and the sale of bonds in July.

Weflen said construction could start in August and will take two years to complete and that the jail should be operational by the end of 2026.

Richwine said the county is working on resolving drainage issues in the area to provide some relief for homeowners north of Hartman Road.

American Rescue Plan funds could be used for the drainage work, he said.

County Administrator Tom Ecker said there have been meetings taking place for over a year that involved all the people that would be involved in the operation of the facility, including the Sheriff's Department, maintenance staff and IT departments.

The jail is being planned to have 528 beds which would include 144 beds in a dormitory setting.

Weflen said the design by architectural firm RQAW includes expansion into the second bond which could be a cellblock or more dormitory housing.

He said one advantage of the new jail is that it will allow the Sheriff's Department more flexibility in the classification of inmates.

"The design includes cells for mental health and drug addicted inmates and two trustee dormitories," Weflen said.

Weflen has been involved in the design of numerous Indiana jails over the past two decades and said only Hendricks County doesn't include dormitory housing.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.