PRINCETON — Bureau County's new law enforcement center may be off to a slower than anticipated start after the Bureau County Board announced Tuesday it has scrapped all construction bids and will start the bidding process over.
Eight bidders put their offers in, each coming in between $17 million and $19 million, far over the anticipated $11 million that was expected, so the board will put the project back up for bid on Saturday.
Henry Pittner, representative of the 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.
Pittner explained only four manufacturers in the U.S. do prison construction work at this scale, so they are able to charge a premium for their services.
Bureau County 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 in the center will have four fewer beds in the tweaked design, and decision-makers may consider switching from precast to masonry for some of the project, but the biggest change will involve one of the building's proposed occupants — the 911 dispatch center.
BuEComm, the county's emergency dispatch center, was to be rehomed at the law enforcement center, but that plan has changed.
Jim Shipp, commander of County Emergency Operations, said the county will no longer relocate BuEComm from its office adjacent to the Princeton Police Department, a move that would have saved money for the dispatch agency, but not necessarily the law enforcement center project.
Shipp said additionally, in the time the project has gone from design to bid letting, BuEComm has learned it will be getting an upgraded phone system, but moving it from the current building to a new one would cost the county $40,000 they just don't have.
Instead of the dispatch office move, the project architect has redesigned the jail's kitchen area, eliminating the need to build on and 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.