Murphy against jail change orders, says its too expensive|
By Sheryl Marsh
DAILY Staff Writer
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Morgan County taxpayers have paid more than $10 million so far for construction of the new jail, including changes that drove costs about $100,000 higher than original bids.
Despite the changes, the county has saved about $100,000 through cost reductions for certain areas of construction.
The county cushioned the $406,105 in change orders with cost reductions of $303,188, budget records show.
District 3 Commissioner Kevin Murphy is against the change orders that the construction manager periodically brings for commission approval.
"I'm tired of it. They bid one thing, and then turn around and bring a change order for something every meeting, it seems like," Murphy said. "This jail is costing too much."
Jim Davis, construction manager for Doster Construction Co., asked the commission recently to approve paying a contractor an additional $18,177 for 80 trash hauls from cleanup at the construction site.
Davis said he first estimated that 65 trash hauls to the landfill would be enough, but there is more debris than expected. Davis said if workers don't use all 80 hauls, the county will get a refund.
Murphy and District 4 Commissioner Stacy George voted against the request. Chairman John Glasscock broke a tie, saying, "We can't have our trash floating out on Lee Street."
Murphy said he is afraid the jail will put the county in financial distress.
"This jail scares me really bad," Murphy said. "I think it could be the great white elephant that could sink the county. I think the commission should come together and say enough is enough."
Glasscock said a fund was set aside for changes.
"Obviously we never like to see the cost of any building go up. When we bid this, we had a contingency fund for items that might have been overlooked," Glasscock said.
The contingency fund amount was $532,766, according to records.
District 1 Commissioner Jeff Clark said the changes were necessary.
"Any construction that's $23 million is going to have changes in it to improve the building," Clark said. "But most of the changes we've had are oversights of the architect or the construction manager or both. "We haven't spent any money that we wouldn't have had to spend anyway."
District 2 Commissioner Richard Lyons said he doesn't like changes that increase cost, but the commission has to deal with them.
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