Floyd County is taking over construction of the training center building at the jail after a call for bids put the price at nearly twice the budgeted amount.
County Manager Jamie McCord said the sheriff's office and maintenance department would manage the project and use inmate labor at a cost of about $550,000. Leaving the building in the jail medical expansion contract with Carroll Daniel Construction would cost about $1.2 million.
"We're hoping it won't happen with everything ... but there's more work than there are people out there building buildings," McCord said.
The training center is the first phase of a $7.4 million project that will add a medical and mental health wing with 60 beds to the jail at 2526 New Calhoun Highway.
The facility currently has just five medical cells. One is padded, for inmates in a mental health or substance abuse crisis, and one has a separate ventilation system to house inmates with contagious diseases.
The two-phase project is funded through allocations in the 2013 and 2019 special purpose, local option sales tax packages.
Funding for the new sheriff's office training center — which must be moved from the jail to make room for the medical wing expansion — was budgeted at $700,000. McCord said there were at least three bids for each work category but, ultimately, it was too much money to divert from the second, main phase.
"We'll be OK on this phase," said Jail Administrator Bob Sapp, who helped craft the solution and will be heavily involved in managing it. "It's a simple project with few site challenges."
The training center is slated for a section of greenspace and parking lot across from the main entrance to the jail. Plans are to order a freestanding steel building shell and have county crews and inmates work on items such as the foundation, plumbing, electricity, doors and windows and drywall.
The County Commission unanimously signed off on the change, although Commissioner Wright Bagby Jr. expressed some concern.
"Yes, but the problem is if our crews are doing that, something else isn't getting done," Bagby said.
Sapp and his staff also are going to look at how inmate labor can cut costs on the next phase, which will take place inside the existing jail footprint — including the space where the training center and clinic are currently housed.
Security is a major consideration during construction at the jail, which averages about 600 inmates a day.
The next step will be to gut the area that will become the mental health section and refit it as a temporary clinic.
Then crews will get to work on the medical section. They'll complete the mental health side after the clinic is moved into its permanent space.