New Edgar County Public Safety Center bids come in high


Vehicles crowded the parking lot and visitors packed the meeting room of the Edgar County Highway Department on Thursday, April 25. Members of the Edgar County Board, the Highway Department, consultants and representatives from a wide collection of construction companies and contractors gathered to open bids and see who would participate in the construction of the Edgar County Public Safety Center (ECPSC) – Paris’ new jail.

Chairman Jeff Voigt called the meeting to order at 11 a.m. before unsealing and reading an extensive list of bids for various parts of the anticipated project. Companies near and far submitted bids and projected costs to work on the building’s roof, HVAC, parking lot, concrete, masonry, electrical, detention facilities and more.

After more than 40 minutes of opening bids, Voigt dismissed the throng of contractors and thanked them for their interest in participating. Representatives from CORE Construction, who worked with the board to draw the schematics for the design, tallied the total cost for the project based on the bids.

The results could have been better.

After adding up the bids, Levi Bauer, CORE’s Pre-Construction Manager, informed the board the updated building cost is $17.3 million. CORE’s previous target for build costs clocked in at $16.6 million. This increase pushes the final price tag, including design fees and utilities, to $18.8 million – an $800,000 (4.5 percent) increase over the most recent estimate, which was $18 million.

For the board, $18 million is already more than they were initially prepared to pay for the new safety center. The magic number was $14 million prior to May 2023, when a new estimate was drafted to reflect skyrocketing material costs.

After reviewing the bids, Bauer explained the bids with the largest price discrepancies were for roofing ($410,000 over), HVAC ($400,000 over), civil packages ($175,000) and masonry ($100,000). Fortunately, the lowest bid for the facility’s detention center came in $150,000 under the initial estimate.

While the more expensive bids are certainly a setback, CORE has a contingency plan to verify, and potentially reduce, costs.

“Part of the bid confirmation process will be requesting breakdowns from people so that we can get a better idea of where the overages are,” Bauer explained to board members in attendance. “We typically ask for pricing – they’re just giving us one big lump sum. So we’re gonna go in and find pricing from specific line items to see where we’re getting hurt versus our previous budget.”

“The roofing is coming in at $39 a square foot, which (is) typically half of that, so I’m not exactly sure what was special about this roof,” Bauer continued. “That’s definitely something we’ll look into.”

Bauer asked the board if they would like CORE to consider “value engineering”: a technique designed to systematically assess and simplify the scope of a project in order to save money.

“Yeah, because if it comes in that high we don’t have the money to do that,” Voigt responded.

“We can go and ask to simplify the design or change certain things, though we’re pretty limited on the time we have available to make those changes,” Bauer explained. “...if we need to, that’s the route we’re gonna go. We can’t just call them and ask them ‘Hey, can you cut this off the top of your quote,’ because it’s a public bid, but there’s a change in the scope that provides cuts for that.”

While changes in scope may be necessary, Voigt was adamant that the facility’s planned sally port remain untouched.

Bauer and his team will verify that all of the proposed deductions for the project are correct and look at potentially changing the material and type of pipe to be used in the facility.

The cost of the facility, which will house the Edgar County Sheriff’s Office, a detention center and the Edgar County 911 Dispatch Center, exceeds its initial estimate, continuing a trend of rising costs for the project. Nonetheless, Voigt is hopeful that further review of the bids, combined with changes to the project itself, can bring the cost back in line with the $18 million total.

“Obviously, we were all hoping that it would be under 18 (million)...” said Voigt, later adding, “Quite frankly, it’s not like we’re three or four million over… it is maybe doable. We should be cautiously optimistic, I think. But, you know, we’re just going to have to refine this – this is our first shot out of the box.”

The Edgar County Board’s building and grounds committee will reconvene to discuss the matter Tuesday, April 30.

Edgar County Safety Center, jail