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Bureau County Jail bids come in $6 million too high

Bidding process starts all over again

PRINCETON — Bureau County’s new law enforcement center may be off to a slower-than-anticipated start after the board announced it has scrapped all construction bids and will start the bidding process over.

Eight bidders submitted offers, each coming in at $17-$19 million. The projected expense was $11 million, so the board will put the project back up for bid on Saturday.

Henry Pittner, representative of architecture firm BKV Group, who is overseeing the project, told board members there were several reasons for the higher than expected bids including inflation, increased labor costs and the high cost of precast concrete.

Pitter said only four manufacturers in the United States do prison construction work at this scale so they are able to charge a premium for their services.

Sheriff Jim Reed and his staff sat down with the architecture firm to revise some of the plans in effort to cut costs before the project goes back out for bid.

The proposed jail section of the center will have four fewer beds in the tweaked design and the decision makers may consider switching from precast to masonry for some of the project but the biggest change will involve one of the buildings proposed occupants — the 911 dispatch center.

Formerly BuEComm, the county’s emergency dispatch center, was to be moved to the law enforcement center, but that plan has changed.

Jim Shipp, County Emergency Operations Commander, said the county will no longer relocate BuEComm from its office adjacent to Princeton Police Department. This would save money for the dispatch agency, but not necessarily the law enforcement center project.

Shipp said additionally, in the time that the project has gone from design to bid letting, BuEComm has learned it will get an upgraded phone system, but moving it from the current building to a new one would cost the county $40,000 that the county just doesn’t have.

Instead of the dispatch office move, the project architect has redesigned the jail’s kitchen area, saving an estimated $1.2 million.

Reed told the board he approved of the new cost-saving measures, and emphasized no shortcuts had been made in the requirement for the new jail.

“We have to build this right — we can’t put ourselves in a situation like we are now and put ourselves in that position again years down the road,” he said.

Kim Shute can be reached at (815) 879-5200 or Follow her on Twitter at NT_Princeton2.

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