Carroll County Comet

Popular Categories

Jail project at an impasse

The Carroll County Commissioners and the County Council met together for nearly two hours Monday evening to discuss the proposed jail project. By the abrupt end of the meeting however, it was not clear if there is a jail project anymore.

There were disagreements, personal attacks as well as yelling and shouting as the two elected bodies expressed their beliefs about the way the project management and funding should be handled. Commissioners signed a 20-plus page contract with CCI earlier in the process on the day it was presented to them. At the time, a majority of the Council criticized the Commissioners because they did not ask for proposals and there were few cost limitations for the services.

When presented with the contract for funding, the Council voted against it, which essentially canceled the agreement. Commissioners had decided to use Jack Krause of CCI. Commissioner Bill Brown explained there was no reason to request qualifications for the project from other companies because his mind, along with those of Commissioners Loren Hylton and Steve Pearson, was made up. Brown reiterated this sentiment at the Monday night meeting.

Four of the seven Council members urged Commissioners to set limits on project spending, which is now accepted to be at $14 million, because they were concerned about cost overruns. However, Council members, Ethan Brown, Lawrence “Doc” Stauffer and Scott Ayres decided the Council should trust the Commissioners’ choice.

Council member Tracy Martin pushed Krause to provide guaranteed project costs, citing that most construction projects cost more than initially expected. Krause said at first he could not give a guarantee and then said he could guarantee the price, “but it would be meaningless” – except it would make the Council members feel better. Former Commissioner John Brown, who left office nearly a year ago, stated that Krause was the Commissioners’ choice while he was in office.

“We’ve already decided what delivery system we’re going to have,” Commissioner Brown stated in a raised voice. “I don’t see any purpose of beating that dog around anymore.”

Council President Josh Plue urged the Commissioners to look at other providers to discover if the project could be done for less. He said $14 million is only $1 million away from forcing the county into a referendum for the project. He said he did not want to “saddle” the taxpayers with overages.

Council member Tim Radcliff said he believes a different delivery system, one in which the construction manager, not the county, assumes overages, would be best for the county. He suggested melding the two delivery systems as a compromise to the Commissioners.

Krause said the suggestion would only add another layer of spending money on to the project.

Commissioner Brown said he has not seen a revised contract from Krause but still believes CCI is the company for the job. Council member Ethan Brown agreed as the discussion began to deteriorate.

Ethan Brown called the proceedings “a circus.” When Martin said what Ethan Brown called a “circus,” she calls “negotiating.” Plue tried to intervene and Brown then lashed out at Plue saying Plue is not his boss and he can say whatever the h*** he wants to say. Council member Brown then stated he was elected by the people and Plue was appointed to the Council by 14 people.

Commissioner Bill Brown yelled and pointed his finger at Plue and said the Commissioners are not going with a different delivery system. He stated he has been a Commissioner for 19 years and there “was not one hint of corruption until last year and you were a part of it.”

“You have not cooperated one bit – none,” Brown yelled.

When it was pointed out there is no contract for the two groups to agree upon, Bill Brown said the contract does not need to be in writing for an agreement.

“I come from Cutler where my word is worth something,” he said.

Council member Paul Rider made a motion for the Council to adopt a resolution to the Commissioners requesting them to solicit qualifications and bids from Krause, as an owner-representative, and from other firms before going forth with the project. The architectural firm hired by the Commissioners for the project, Elevatus, pushed the Council to accept CCI and Krause as the Construction Manager with the financing risk being placed with the county. He said his group will be ready in about a week to begin working with a construction manager. He said any delay will mean added costs for the project.

Plue agreed with the motion by Rider stating he thinks the county should have contractual protection against increased costs. The motion passed in a four-tothree vote. Voting in favor of searching for competitive bids and qualifications were Rider, Plue, Martin and Radcliff. Voting against the motion were Council members Brown, Stauffer and Ayres.

Ayres said he thought the resolution is a moot point because the Commissioners will not agree.

Coroner Kristen Enoch said the Council may be overstepping its role. She said the Commissioners are supposed to make the decision and the Council is supposed to “just fund it.”

Pearson expressed displeasure with the proceedings and the County Council at the end of the meeting.

“My next motion will be to cancel the project,” he said. “We did our homework. They aren’t going to do anything we want.”

Pearson made a motion to adjourn the Commissioners’ meeting and Hylton provided the second. The motion was approved unanimously.

The Council adjourned as well amid the confusion that engulfed the room.

According to Sheriff Tobe Leazenby Tuesday morning, there are 30 prisoners housed in the local jail. He advised the average has been 30. Nine prisoners are housed out of county in Warren and White counties.

“Bear in mind, Indiana Department of Correction considers a county jail at maximum capacity when at 80% full,” Leazenby said. “Our 80% is a little over 27 inmates. Our actual bed space is 34. Also, as I’ve stated previously and publicly, our numbers are very “fluid” and often change. With winter approaching, if history holds true, we anticipate an increase in detainees.”

The next Commissioners’ meeting will be Monday, Nov. 4, beginning at 9 a.m. The Council will meet next on Nov. 21 at 9 a.m.

A video recording of this meeting can be found on YouTube on the “Debbie Lowe” channel.