Rising steel prices may affect more than construction prices for the new Clay County jail, county officials said Tuesday.
According to the Clay County Commissioners, architectural firm Schenkel Schultz, the company that designed the jail, also stands to make some extra money from the county in the construction, based on the firm's 7 percent fee.
In April, the architectural firm told the county a finished jail should cost roughly $9.2 million. At this rate, the firm's 7 percent fee would cost the county approximately $644,000.
Hannig Construction submitted a winning construction bid of $9.7 million in June. The bid, which was $500,000 higher than Schenkel Schultz's estimate, was rumored to be heftier because of inflating steel costs. To reflect their fee, Schenkel Schultz sent the county a bill for $35,000.
"It seems kind of slimy that they came back and did all that," President David Parr said. "How do they justify the rise in cost with no additional architectural work?"
The Commissioners believe they were misled by the firm, claiming they were told in an earlier meeting the 7 percent fee applied to the $9.2 million estimate only. Board Attorney Eric Somheil told the three that the contract was not worded that way, and they were obligated to pay the additional money.
"We don't have to give them a favorable recommendation, though," Commissioner Daryl Andrews said.
Auditor Joe Dierdorf said he believed he had a tape of the meeting in question. The Commissioners decided to hold off on the payment until they could review the tape, giving firm representative Dave Scholl a chance talk to a supervisor about the bill.
"We thought it was a fair compromise since the bids with alternates came to $10.4 million," Scholl said, referring to optional work the county has not yet decided on. If all alternates are selected and the firm's fee stays with prices, the county may be charged roughly $728,000 in total by the firm. It is unlikely that every alternate will be carried out, however.
"It's just kind of irritating," Parr said. "We got a $35,000 surprise."