Preliminary plans for the Greene Co jail expansion millions over budget

GREENE COUNTY, Mo. Greene County has plans to build a bigger jail but a preliminary draft shows the lockup could cost much more than expected.

Voters approved a tax increase that would pay for the project but at a reasonable price.

"It is the biggest project the county's every built and it's going to be complicated," said Kevin Barnes, Director of Resource Management for Greene County

He said plans for the new jail are at the beginning stages.

"We've just signed the construction manager on board and that's why we're really getting back numbers right now," said Barnes.

The current estimated cost is nearly $100 million over budget. That price tag cover costs that include a lot of extras in the plans for the jail expansion, like large conference rooms and a complete workout gym for sheriff's deputies.

However, those amenities won't necessarily be included in the final plans.

"Normally part of a construction project, where you put everything on the table and then part of scoping is to carve it back down to a project you'll actually build," said Barnes.

Greene County Commissioner, Lincoln Hough said, "The project that's on paper right now is not realistic for this community at all."

In fact, county leaders are asking the planning committee to scale the plans back down to the basic needs.

"I understand that this is scoping process and this is starting out with sort of maybe a wish list and then we pair it down to meet the budget. But we knew all along what the budget was. I was a little surprised to come in over double what our actual resources have available," said Hough.

He explained that $40 million worth of amenities from the current design has already been cut.

"We can't just say well the jail's more expensive than we thought it was going to be so we're going to have to rob from these other projects. That's not something that this commissioner is going to be very happy about," said Hough.

County leaders said they will continue to re-work the plans to fit the needs of the community.

"We'll build a project. That's what the voters entrusted us with the money to do. We will build a jail," said Barnes.

Hough said, "We're going to have to get it done with the price that we have established. Period. End of story."

Plans for the jail expansion and final budget should be finished by the end of this year.

The county will then send out a request for bids from builders.

If approved by the commission, construction could start by next summer.