Flagler County’s new, 270-bed jail will cost taxpayers $18 million, and will open around mid-year in 2016. The Flagler County Commission Monday morning voted 4-0 to approve the costs, which are higher than the $14 to $15 million the architect originally projected last July.
The 270 beds will be in addition to the 134 beds that constitute the existing jail, and that will be converted into a women-only section of the facility. The combination will result in a 404-bed facility at a time when the jail has been experiencing a decline in incarceration. The expansion of the jail will cost the sheriff and the county more to run. Those annual costs have not yet been provided. The commission is paying for the project with revenue from the half-cent sales tax it approved in 2012. But annual operational costs are drawn from property tax revenue.
“At the core of what we do is this here,” County Commissioner Nate McLaughlin said, moving for approval. There was no discussion. McLaughlin called the cost “significantly below” original projections, which is not the case, although two years ago some projections of a new jail, before any designs, ran as high as $26 million. The $18 million is a guaranteed maximum price, meaning that change orders, should they arise, should not increase the price.
The contract with Allstate Construction Inc.—a 28-year-old company based in Tallahassee and Jacksonville—has a guaranteed maximum price of $16.4 million. But that price does not include utility, gas and electricity connection fees. Also not included in the base price: sustainable design requirements, lockers, a walkway canopy system, two classrooms (each of which, at 1,000 square feet, would cost $217,000), a lighting protection system ($130,000) and a fencing system. Most of those items, totaling $1.5 million, will be part of the final project. But the county is adding those costs outside the maximum price, under a category it calls “Owner’s Project.”
The construction schedule is set at 476 days, or about 15 months.
Designed by Clemons Rutherford and Associates, the new facility will include 62 cells with two beds each, 24 cells with four beds each, and dormitories totaling 50 beds, for a total of 270 beds, more than double the present jail’s capacity. The jail is run by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. The new beds will be located in a panopticon-like “pod” that enables the sheriff’s corrections deputies to more efficiently provide surveillance and control of the facility.
The “pod” will be divided into 12 housing units, allowing for several uses that the current jail makes either difficult or impossible, including the separation of male inmates into separate classifications, and the separation of juveniles who might need to temporarily held at the jail. The project will renovate the existing jail facility into a support services building where food and medical facilities will be expanded and the booking facility will be improved. The renovated facility will vastly expand room for female inmates, to 134 beds.