Prison project could be open for tender by January

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Sarah Fay Campbell / The Newnan Times-Herald

Bond Advisor Roger Murray guides members and staff of the Coweta Public Facilities Authority through typical bond issue scenarios.

An expansion project in the Coweta County Jail is scheduled to be tendered by early 2022.

The architectural and technical work for the extension is currently underway. Members of the Coweta Public Services Agency received a brief overview of the prison project at this week’s meeting.

The county’s public facilities staff and architects meet with prison staff to ensure that the direction of current plans – developed over the last year – still suits their needs.

“That way we can delve into the real basics of the design and construction of the project,” said Mike Johnson, facility management director at Coweta. “The project is progressing quickly.”

The PFA will likely issue bonds to fund the prison expansion, which will cost approximately $ 22 million. However, because the real cost is not known until the bids are made, bonds may have to wait to know how much bonds to issue.

Since this is a prison and the expansion includes a new kitchen and infirmary, there are many special finishing requirements that can drive prices up, said County Administrator Michael Fouts.

However, it can take around 90 days to issue bonds, and with building materials costs fluctuating, waiting that long between bidding and building could be problematic.

“We have to sit down and be comfortable with it,” said Fouts after the meeting.

When contractors submit bids, these are usually only valid for about 30 days.

“We can try to get it close to the offering results,” Fouts said of the bond issue. “We have to sit down and have this conversation.”

And they need to familiarize themselves with the likely costs, especially for specialty items.

Members of the agency asked how the contract could be structured.

Fouts said that due to the nature of the project, they are currently considering taking the “site manager in danger” route. For most projects, the county simply makes a heavy toll with a general contractor, but that can often lead to a number of change orders.

The current prison was built in 1991 as a result of a federal lawsuit, and it was quickly built by court order. That means the building wasn’t as well thought out as it could have been, and the county is starting to see some problems with this quick construction.

Although the extension will be connected to the existing prison facility, it will be completely separate from an infrastructure and utility point of view, Fouts said.

During the session, the second for the new agency, members also went through the bond issue scenarios to review how they worked and discussed the availability of the agency’s services to other governing bodies in the county.

Authority member David Fowler said he would like the authority to have a package or presentation that can help explain authority to the governing bodies.

Fouts said the county staff could put something like this together.

Bond advisor Roger Murray said most public institutions do not have the authority to issue bonds for communities and school systems, but he is glad the lawsuit establishing the Coweta Public Facilities Authority gave them that authority.

Fowler suggested that members of the authorities could attend local city council and board meetings to discuss the new authority and its options.


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