Cost of Hawkins County Justice Center rises to $15 million

Jeff Bobo • Oct 16, 2007 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — The former $12.8 million Hawkins County Justice Center project will become a $15 million Hawkins County Justice Center project if the County Commission accepts a recommendation approved by the Budget Committee Monday.

The commission’s Budget Committee voted 6-1 Monday in favor of recommending a resolution to issue an additional $2.2 million bond to be added onto the $12.8 million bond that was issued for the project in November 2005.

Commissioner Virgil Mallett offered the only dissenting vote.

Architect Tony Moore attended Monday’s Budget Committee meeting to help explain the need for additional funding.

The project will now include a new roof for $124,000 as opposed to a patched roof in the original plan. Moore said the new roof will include a 15-year warranty and wasn’t much more expensive than the patch job.

Another cost factor was the highly publicized floor and foundation problems, as well as the low water pressure problem which had been estimated last year to cost $640,000 to repair.

There were several other reasons that the extra funding was needed.

Construction bids came in higher than expected.

Natural inflation has occurred since the project cost was originally estimated two years ago.

The estimated $505,000 cost of Justice Center furnishings and jail kitchen furnishings is being included in these additional funds.

About $500,000 of the Justice Center bond issuance funds were “borrowed” from the fund to purchase new school buses for the county school system.

And about $2 million from that original bond has been set aside, said County Mayor Crockett Lee, and cannot be touched except for the proposed downtown courthouse renovation.

Budget Committee Chairman Claude Parrott noted that Cumberland Securities, which issued the bonds, has indicated that the new $2.2 million in debt can be added to the existing $12.8 million debt without increasing the amount of debt service set aside for the project in the county budget.

In other words, the extra money can be borrowed without increasing taxes.

Lee told the Times-News following Monday’s meeting that commissioners are leaning toward approving the low bidder for the project, Hale Construction of Morristown at $8.39 million. Hale Construction also had the longest completion time of 500 days.

Bids won’t be awarded until the additional funding is approved by the full commission, Lee added. The commission meets in regular session the morning of Oct. 22.

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