BROOKSVILLE — The cost of repairs at the Hernando County Jail will run five times the $3 million the county has set aside, according to a preliminary engineering report.
HDR Engineering, the firm hired by the county to assess conditions at the 22-year-old jail, has made a preliminary estimate that repairs will cost $14.9 million, with the largest chunk going to meet code and security needs.
The preliminary report also says $973,626 of that amount should be covered by Corrections Corporation of America for deferred maintenance.
The county has withheld $1.8 million from the company in anticipation of the findings in the report. The company has demanded payment immediately, and the county's legal staff has invited the company to send representatives to today's County Commission meeting.
A final report by the engineering firm is expected soon and will include additional issues and costs, according to a memo to commissioners by purchasing and contracts consultant Lisa Hammond. "Due to the Hernando County Jail facility condition of disrepair and the incomplete review and costing of repairs," Hammond wrote, "it is recommended that the county postpone action until Oct. 12, 2010, or when the final report is available."
"On May 25th, the Board of County Commissioners set aside $3 million for capital improvements of the jail. This funding is limited to jail renovations, repair, maintenance, and jail improvements," Hammond wrote in the memo. "Although the preliminary estimate exceeds this amount, staff will work with HDR to identify the most severe issues to be addressed that are within the scope of the allotted funding."
At least one commissioner was not pleased. "I'm sorry, but this is crock of crap," said Commissioner Jeff Stabins. "A 22-year-old building would have a ridiculous price tag to make it new again. But it's a jail, not a Holiday Inn Express."
Unlike two previous examinations of the jail, which showed no structural problems, this exam included the entire facility and all systems.
Corrections Corporation of America began operating the jail in 1988, but backed out of its contract earlier this year. Sheriff Richard Nugent took over operations of the facility in late August. He initially had balked at the takeover, citing deteriorating conditions at the jail.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.