Saginaw County Commissioners Debate Higher Jail Construction Costs

Saginaw County Adult Detention Facility Construction Manager Herb Spence tells county commissioners rebidding the project is not likely to save any money. (WSGW News photo by Bill Hewitt)

Since 2015 Saginaw County has had a policy of requiring a prevailing wage be paid for construction projects over $50,000. With the recent elimination of Michigan’s prevailing wage laws, some Saginaw County commissioners are considering an attempt to change the county policy.

An attempt to have the $37.85 million jail and sheriff administrative office project put out for bids again, failed at a special meeting Tuesday. The original cost of the jail was $35.8 million The project’s construction manager Herb Spence said there’s no guarantee a new bid process would bring a better price with lower labor costs. Spence pointed out other costs have increased for material with recent talks about tariffs on imported steel which is up six percent.

The county is selling $39 milion in bonds to pay for the jail. Commissioners accepted an offer from County Treasurer Tim Novak to borrow up to $2 million from the county’s delinquent tax fund to cover the extra cost. Novak said it’s a cheaper alternative than selling more bonds.

Saginaw County Controller Robert Belleman said the delays are costing the county $124,000 a month in debt service. He said the delays also mean the jail might not be open until as late as February, 2020, instead of a planned November, 2019, opening.




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