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Bids on juvenile jail sought

If a construction company is capable of building a 15,400 square-foot building to house 22 juvenile offenders for between $4.6 million and $5.1 million, then Island County would like to know.

The call for bids comes nearly two months after the initial targeted start date for construction. As a result of this delay, a 3 percent increase in the cost is expected, said project manager Gary Hess.

“The things that drive the cost are that it’s expensive to build a jail,” Hess said. “Detention is expensive.”

Also adding to the cost will be traits not found in the adult jail. The juvenile center will have classroom space and an indoor recreation facility. The new center will also have lounges with television sets.

“It’ll be toned down,” Hess said. “It’s specific to juveniles and it has some features that you won’t find in an adult jail.”

The elaborate security system also causes the cost of the project to escalate to the estimated levels. The building will have a touch-screen interface, closed circuit TV and a modern fire detection and suppression system.

Money for the jail comes from a 1998 voter-approved sales tax of .01 percent. Island County Budget Director Elaine Marlow said the fund for the center currently has approximately $3.4 million, a far cry from the estimated $5.4 million cost.

“We’ve been saving money to fund the construction and what’s going to happen is there’s still not enough saved up to build the facility, so real estate excise taxes will be used,” Marlow said.

She said the county opted to use money from the real estate tax fund instead of delaying the project further because that would only cause prices to increase further. Marlow said the facility will utilize approximately $1 million in real estate taxes.

If bids come back well over the county’s estimates, Marlow said some difficult choices will have to be made.

“If the board (of county commissioners) wants to build it, then we’re going to have to look for outside sources of funding,” Marlow said.

Bids for the project are due Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. Construction is expected to begin Jan. 4, 2005, and the building is expected to be finished by January 2006.

You can reach News-Times reporter Eric Berto at eberto@whidbeynewstimes.com

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