Rising steel prices were a likely culprit behind bid numbers for a new Clay County jail. The prices, some of which went up to $1 million over the county's initial estimate, left one county commissioner surprised and one disappointed, but not shocked.
Bids were opened at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning at the county courthouse. Several prospective clients came to the meeting to take notes on competitors' prices.
Commissioners Vice President Buddy Knox and Commissioner Daryl Andrews attended the meeting. President David Parr could not attend due to medical problems.
The bids all contained a base rate as well as costs for 13 out of 15 "alternates," or optional work to be done during construction. Alternates 12 and 13, which would add pre-engineered steel items such as cells and stairs to dayrooms within the structure, cost as much as $309,200.
Only one bid, from Hannis Construction, had a base amount under $10 million at $9,797,000. The highest base number, which came from Jung Claus Campbell Construction, came to $10,569,000. Every bid, save for Hannis', went over the $11 million dollar mark with alternates.
The jail was initially estimated to cost $9.7 million, though rising steel costs earlier in the year negated that price. Generally, the commissioners are required by state law to take the lowest bid presented.
After the reading, David Shaw of architectural firm Shenkel Schultz said he would take each bid under advisement. Andrews said the commissioners would discuss the numbers between now and their June 7 meeting. They would hopefully make a decision, he said, at that meeting.
Knox said he wasn't discouraged by the number of bids.
"I figured if we got six or eight we'd be fortunate," he said.
The costs, however, were a bit more concerning to the commissioner.
"Let's just say the prices were a little higher than I was hoping for," he said.
Andrews, however, was not as dejected. He said that he had "personally" assumed there would be a $500,000 positive/negative variation from their figures.
"You'd always like to see it a little less, of course," he said. "But they were in line with what we were projecting."