County bills $1,000 a day for jail delays

Construction of the county jail and sheriff’s office is taking longer than expected. County officials will receive $1,000 a day past the June 1 deadline from Turner Construction because of the delay.

BEEVILLE – County leaders aren’t cutting contractors any slack, saying enough hasn’t been done to make up lost work days as the new jail falls behind schedule.

That will mean Turner Construction will have to repay the county $1,000 per day for every day after June 1.

Heavy rains this past fall and spring have caused significant delays in the building of the facility at Hillside and Galloway drives.

“They had ample opportunity to make up a lot of those days, and they refused,” Commissioner Sammy Farias said during last Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting. “They refused to work on weekends and work on Saturdays.”

Typically, bad weather days are factored into contracts, such as this $25 million construction of the county’s new jail and sheriff’s office, but Turner neglected to include those days.

Project manager Ray Collins, with ECM International, said, “Those days are calculated by the government for each individual location, Bee County specifically in this case, and this allows a company so many rain delay days to be included in their schedule.”

Those days weren’t included, however.

“Had they done that, they would have extended it another 75 days,” he said. “Since they elected not to do that, they don’t have a claim for lost rain days.”

Initially, a few county leaders were hesitant to penalize Turner for the omission.

“I have some empathy for them messing up,” said Commissioner Dennis DeWitt, echoing a similar comment by Commissioner Carlos Salazar Jr. “It is going to cost them money. I don’t know if it is a good idea to intentionally hurt them.”

Their concerns were lightened, though, as they were reminded that Turner had not made an effort to make up any of the days after being notified back in September.

“The thing that I’m looking at is that they had every opportunity to correct it,” Farias said.

“If all parts of the contract aren’t maintained, then the contract is not worth anything,” Collins maintained.

“We’ve been talking to them for the past seven or eight weeks regarding these delays,” said County Judge Stephanie Moreno. “I assure you, we will be reasonable, and we will work with them.

“We want everybody to make (money) and be successful.

“That was something that I really appreciated with our project managers when they first came on. Their theme was ‘Everyone’s going to be successful.’ Of course, Turner’s going to make money off this project, but we want to make sure that we have a jail.”

However, delays cost the county money as it is repaying a debt on a building it is unable to use.

“We just want to make sure that it’s not our taxpayers paying for this,” the judge said.

She added, fortunately, the necessary additional staff hadn’t been hired for the larger facility.

The county hired ECM to oversee the construction and to ensure that the county officials not only received the jail they expect but also at the price promised.

Collins said that he will be watching to ensure that workers don’t cut corners to expedite the construction.

“Ray is here once a week now, instead of once every two weeks, to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Moreno said.

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5221, or at media@mySouTex.com.