By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
Franklin County Commissioners are balking at the proposed cost of expanding the Franklin County Detention Center.
At their regular meeting Monday night, the board heard from architect Tom Wright of Wright, Mitchell & Associates who said even with some trimming of the design, the total cost would now be somewhere around $2.4 million, with a $57-thousand dollar contingency.
The proposed plan calls for an extra pod to house non-violent offenders and women.
But the $2.4 million is not what Wright had initially told the board the extra pod would cost and Commissioner Clint Harper wanted answers.
“What happened to the figure we were quoted of no more than $1.5 million?” Harper asked. “I think when we first were told of this, $1.3 or $1.4 was thrown out and then you said $1.5. But ever since that day, we’ve never seen anything even close to that figure.”
Wright said the initial cost he quoted the board was based on old figures and did not include $900,000 in security equipment.
But Harper countered that there was no way the county can afford to pay $2.4 million for a new jail pod.
“I’m telling you we’re looking at serious problems at $2.4 million dollars, plus the $180,000 that it’s going to take to man that unit, plus $2,000 a month for utilities,” Harper said. “We’re going to run into big problems with our budget.”
Harper said Wright needs to go back to the drawing board and get the figures back down to $1.5 million as initially quoted.
“I mean I don’t know where the money is going to come from. That’s my frustration,” he said.
Harper said the county would have to raise taxes to pay the $2.4 million.
Commission chair Thomas Bridges suggested the county begin looking for alternative funding in the form of USDA loans or bonds.
After more discussion, the board decided, without taking a vote, to hold a work session at a future date to discuss the cost of the new jail pod further.