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November 10th, 2009
County agrees to $58M gov center pact

Hays County Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe (D-San Marcos) and Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle) at last week’s meeting of the Hays County Commissioners Court. Photo by Sean Batura.

News Reporter

Hays County Commissioners voted unanimously last week to contract with Balfour Beatty for design and construction of a 233,600 square-foot government building complex.

The government center contract stipulates that Hays County will pay Balfour Beatty, a UK-based, international corporation, no more than $58,288,337.

Because the government center steering committee anticipates about $15,667,000 in additional costs outside the design-build team’s scope of work, the total estimated project cost is about $73,955,337.

The government center, the construction of which is expected to begin in March 2010, will be the largest and most costly building construction project ever attempted by the county and will house most county offices. It is expected that the government center will be completed near Wonder World Drive and Old Stagecoach Trail sometime in 2011.

The biggest decision the county has to make before construction begins is where to set the guaranteed maximum price (GMP). The county will offer Balfour Beatty a percentage of the difference between the GMP and the actual cost of the project, thereby providing the firm with an incentive to save the county money.

Hays County Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe (D-San Marcos) said Tuesday that the GMP will “most likely” not be negotiated until February.

“We still feel very confident that it will be at that $58 million or lower,” Ingalsbe said Tuesday. “I think there’s opportunity for it to go lower. I do not believe that it will go above that.”

Government Center project architecture firm HDR is meeting with county department heads to make sure their design matches the individual needs of the county’s offices. At the kickoff meeting on Monday, representatives from HDR mentioned their desire to collaborate with Texas State University’s School of Art and Design on a mural for the government center. The mural would reflect the local character and history of Hays County.

The county might be able to bring the project cost down to $71.4 million if it pays project manager firm Broaddus and Associates out of the operating budget instead of from project funds. At $71.4 million with 4.75 percent interest, the annual payment on the government center would be $4,780,290, just higher than the $4.5 million annually budgeted for county building improvements.

Hays County Auditor Bill Herzog said last month that although the county is expecting to get a 4.75 percent interest rate, today’s market would fetch a rate between four and 4.5 percent. At four percent, the county’s annual debt service for the government center project would be $4.4 million.

The government center will likely house six district courts, three county court at law courts, one justice of the peace court, a law library, and the offices for adult probation, compliance, Precinct 1 constable, district attorney, juvenile probation, district clerk, auditor, county clerk, elections, human resources, information technology, tax assessor, treasurer and veterans affairs.

Hays County commissioners unanimously voted in October to design-build team Balfour Beatty and HDR over two other teams. Balfour Beatty/HDR proposed a project costing $58,288,339.

Design-build team Satterfield & Pontikes Construction and HOK offered a conceptual design entailing an estimated total project cost of $78,123,343. Skanska Group, Kirksey and Goetting & Associates, proposed two design options entailing estimated total project costs of $74,990,740 and $74,415,590, respectively.

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8 thoughts on “County agrees to $58M gov center pact

  1. After spending time in the new Bell County Court house and jail I am really appalled that we are not building an integrated center like they have in Bell and Williamson Counties. The savings in man power, costs, security and the ease for all concerned in having a well designed new jail attached to the Government Center is well worth the time to redesign this the right way. The stone cold sober fact is that we need a new jail. We should build the jail and integrate it with the Government center on a piece of land that is big enough to house all of these services. Lets put the past mistakes behind us as it relates to the current location and start over again. Bell County is a great place to start looking.

  2. So you think we should spend $38 million on a jail facility like Bell County? Maybe you should do a bit more research. I’m not sure that people in Bell County are as wowed by the jail as you are David.

    “When the multi-million dollar contract to construct the judicial palace on Loop 121 was awarded to Skanska USA Building, Inc., the Temple Telegram reported that County Judge Jon Burrows had abstained from the vote because of “business and personal dealings with Skanska personnel.”

    Where is O’dell when you need him?

  3. Lila, oddly, I have done my research, I have spoken to many people in Bell County and no one was drummed out of office over this project. After all was siad and done, it seems like even the local versions of Lila and Charles dont have to much to complain about. (although I am sure you can dig up some one and an article or two).

    The point here is that if we had spend the money we needed to back when we build the jail we would have one that works and one that would last; however we had to listen to folks that wanted to cut taxes but wanted to be tough on crime and this we would up with this mess. The one that that can be said for the folks that build our old Courthouse, it’s still standing and it was build to last; if you look at its construction cost in current dollars it was an expensive build, but it was worth it. Yes, you do have to spend money to make things work right. If you actually went out there and saw how the Bell County Center worked you might just see good government in action; no you rather sling innuendo and threaten O’Dell rather than that the time to consider that that 38 million dollar project might just be a good model for us to look at.

  4. “Ratliff last week said that a new jail may cost the county ‘close to $50-or-$60 million, probably.'”

    Lila, $38 million sounds like a bargain compared to the County’s estimate. Since everyone wants long jail sentences for possession, DWI and various other non-violent offenses, the jail has to be bigger. What we have is embarassing. The County is holding the jail kitchen together with duct tape and claiming that the inspectors are out to get them. Last I checked, the State of Texas is hardly pro-prisoner. If we can spend millions on a water monitoring station at Jacobs Well, we can spend the money it takes to rehabilitate the convicted properly.

  5. Some citizens are sure in a mood to spend money. While others don’t want another penny spent by government. I’m glad I’m not up there on the dais. It makes it very difficult to set priorities. But as I understand it, for the moment at least, it is necessary to bring the current jail up the state standards immediately. Unless someone thinks a new building could be constructed within the next 2 weeks…

    But Sergi, you’re an attorney, so I’m certain you are so much smarter than little ol’ me.

  6. I am happy to see David Sergi supporting our County Judge’s proposed combination Jail and Justice Center, like the one in Bell County!

    Last March, Judge Sumter, the Sheriff and some of the employees of the jail traveled to Bell County and toured the facility there and thought that might work for our county as well, but there has been no traction for this kind of option with the Commissioners.

    Siting a Justice Center on land already owned by the County in an area in need of economic development might solve several problems and would certainly put similar services adjacent to one another.

    Having our Judges and Prosecutors housed with the Jail would cut down on a lot of transportation and security issues.

    Keeping our taxing offices and other civil aspects of County Government downtown would provide a way to separate these government functions. This way, no one has to be searched or go through a metal detector just to renew their car registration or pay their property taxes!

    How about we look closer at some innovative solutions to this Jail/Justice Center dilemma?

  7. Well, the context of the comments are making more sense now. Thanks Django for letting the rest of us in on this….

  8. I really don’t care who I’m agreeing with or not. What I really care about is a safer more efficient and cost effective Government Complex. The point here is that we need one place to do out County business. I liked the Bell County facility because it worked. The inmate visitation for non lawyers was great as is was via video feed so that all conversations and hand signs were recorded between inmate and visitor. It sure makes for a safer county. By the way why do you object to going thru a metal detector?

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