Saginaw County Jail project gets additional $2 million dollars to cover cost overruns

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SAGINAW (WJRT) (06/12/2018) - An extra $2 million will be pumped into the Saginaw County Jail project, bringing the price tag for the upgrade, to just under $38 million.

This, after a pitch to re-bid the project following a repeal of the state's prevailing wage law, fell flat. With more funding just approved, it's full steam ahead.

"With millions of dollars of cost over runs for the new county proposed jail, a jail I support mind you, it is my hope that you will reconsider this bid and and all future bids free of prevailing wage," said Commissioner Kathy Dwan, reading aloud from a letter sent from Saginaw Resident Jimm Greene, the President and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors, Greater Michigan.

Greene helped push the petition drive in Michigan to repeal the state's prevailing wage law.

"I think it's worth looking into because we owe the taxpayers a fair and transparent process," said Dwan after the meeting. "We're spending their money, not our own."

Her motion asking the board to consider rebidding the jail construction project failed after the board learned they would have to vote to repeal prevailing wage in Saginaw County first.

Construction Manager Herbert Spence, who was in favor of keeping the prevailing wage, told the board rising material costs could impact a rebidding process:

"If they were given the chance to rebid the project, especially with their prices increasing, those prices would go up," he said.

In addition, board members learned that every month delay costs the county $124,000 in debt service on the bonds issued to pay for it.

So the board voted 7-2 to instead authorize up to an additional $2 million in funding for the jail project.

County Controller Robert Belleman said It's over budget due to unforeseen problems with the soil where the new jail will be built, requiring the use of steel beams to support the foundation.

Also, he said initial bids came in slightly higher than anticipated.

"The county commissioners and everybody worked together and they were able to fix that issue," said Lt. Miguel Gomez after the votes. "The Saginaw County Sheriff's Office and the citizens should be happy this project is going to go forward because the jail is absolutely needed."

Belleman said construction will begin in July. Law offices at Cass and Webster will be torn down and the parking lot will be dug up and steel beams driven below the surface to put the foundation in place.

The new jail will be built right across from the current one.

Greene sent the following statement:

"I am obviously disappointed that County Commissioner Kathy Dwan was the only commissioner that saw there was a great opportunity to rebid a contract that is costing tax payers in Saginaw county millions of unnecessary expenses. The same night that Saginaw county retirees complained about their raising healthcare costs shouldn’t be lost on tax payers."

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