Cost overrun reported for juvenile justice building

A $2.7 million cost overrun was reported Thursday evening for the Wyandotte County juvenile justice building project.

“We’re going to need a little bit more money than we anticipated to complete the project,” Unified Government Administrator Doug Bach told the UG Commission at the 5 p.m. meeting Thursday.

Lynn Newkirk from Newkirk Novak, construction firm, said the plan originally budgeted $24.8 million in the 2017-2018 budget. Now the cost of the project is $27.5 million, he said. At the end of May, the cost of the project was projected at $28.9 million, and then soft cost corrections were proposed to get back to the $27.5 million figure, he said. Some materials changes are being proposed, such as using brick instead of masonry in some areas, or changing the type of flooring.

He said reasons for the cost increase include a change from the original 57,000 square feet to 62,000 square feet, cost escalation of 4 to 6 percent, soil conditions that required an enhanced foundation system, security systems that are more involved than originally planned, and steel tariffs and market uncertainty.

He said the Kansas City, Missouri, airport project, Johnson County courthouse, and a downtown hotel project are driving labor and material costs. Structural steel is seeing a spike in prices since the beginning of talk about tariffs, according to Newkirk. This juvenile justice building is mostly load-bearing masonry and structural steel, he said.

The Wyandotte County Juvenile Center has a $397 per square foot cost as compared to other new projects, the Johnson County Courthouse, at $443 per square foot, the North Kansas City Patrol building at $400 per square foot, and the Jasper County, Missouri, Juvenile Center at $393 per square foot, according to Dan Rowe, with Treanor architects.

In March, Wyandotte County issued Public Building Commission bonds at $25.6 million, according to Debbie Jonscher, UG deputy finance director. The annual debt service is $1.7 million per year beginning in 2019, for 20 years. If Wyandotte County were to issue an additional $2.7 million, the additional debt service would be about $204,000 annually, she said.

Bach said he was not pleased to see the project come in over budget, but they are still maintaining a very good project. He said it is the direction they want to move forward. About $200,000, based on current projects, in the debt service, should cover this, he said.

He recommended to move forward with the project, and plan for it in the budget for 2020, and he asked the commission’s opinion.

Commissioner Brian McKiernan said he was disappointed that they came in so far over the original projections. The whole thought was the cost savings from stopping the farming out program would cover not only the revisions to the jail to bring prisoners back, but also cover the cost to get the juveniles out of the adult jail, he said.

“We’ve been operating on that premise from day one, and so it’s very disturbing, disconcerting, troubling for me to see we are $4.-something million over our initial cost estimate, because that initial cost estimate was based on our cost savings, what money we would have available to pay that bond money back over the next 20 years,” he said. The $4.1 million figure is the difference between the May projected figure of $28.9 million and the original estimate of $24.8 million.

“My recommendation would be to find a way to make it fit our budget, or show me how we can pay for it,” McKiernan said.

Commissioner Harold Johnson asked for information about how the revenue pledge plays against debt service coverage, and was told that they will bring the information back to the commission later.

No action was taken on the issue on Thursday night, but it may be considered again during the July budget meetings.

Construction on the new juvenile justice building will begin in August, according to Jeff Fisher, UG director of public works. It is to the west of the court services building, which is currently a parking lot. The project also includes a new parking lot behind Memorial Hall, where houses have been demolished and trees will be taken down today, June 29, according to Fisher.

Rowe said the project was begun in 2015 with a jail study, followed by other studies. The juvenile project had a facility concept plan, which originally called for about 57,000 square feet, he said. The design of the center has an interior courtyard for exercise space. The main entrance would be on Ann Avenue, with a sally port off Allis Court.

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