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Next stage of Grant Co. Jail construction to begin in May

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | April 17, 2024 2:00 AM

EPHRATA — People driving by the site of the new Grant County Jail will start seeing progress soon.

“We’re planning on breaking ground in May,” said Tom Gaines, director of Grant County Central Services. 

“We’re doing the foundational work now,” he added.

Grant County Commissioners approved a letter with an estimated maximum cost of $155.55 million Tuesday. That isn’t the final contract, Gaines said, which is still a work in progress. 

“This is authorization to continue,” he said. 

Gaines said county officials will work on a contract with Lydig Construction, the general contractors, for a “guaranteed maximum price” for construction. That will be presented to the commissioners for approval when it’s done, but it will not include other expenses associated with the project, known as soft costs.

“What are soft costs? For instance, sales tax,” Gaines said.

The estimated sales tax on the project at the $155.55 million maximum cost would be about $12.7 million, he said. 

“All of the costs that are not directly relatable to construction,” Gaines said.

Soft costs are not just things like desks and chairs and sinks, either. 

The building permit will cost about $77,000. The costs of those desks and chairs and other things needed to furnish the building typically thought of as a large percentage of the soft costs, are actually a relatively small part of the total. For the jail project, Gaines estimated the costs at between $1 and $2 million.

Both the contractor and the customer, Grant County in this case, are required to keep a contingency fund for unanticipated expenses. On a budget of $155.55 million, Gaines estimated that would be about $6.7 million.

The total project cost is likely to be less than the guaranteed maximum price, he said, depending on how well county officials do their due diligence.

“There’s a lot of budgeting left to do,” Gaines said.

There are opportunities to save money throughout the review process, he said — looking at options for building finishes, reviewing what’s in the existing law and justice center and could be used in the new facility, among other options. 

“I’m going to try and save money every way I can,” he said. 

County officials are involved in the whole contract process. 

“We see every bid opening, we see every invoice, we see every bill,” Gaines said. 

Cheryl Schweizer may be reached at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.