Jail costs look to be less than feared


By David Avitabile

In the end, the new jail will likely end up costing county taxpayers $3 to $4 million, Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry said Friday morning.
The total cost of the jail construction at the fire training site in Howes Cave is estimated at a maximum of $44,325,000 but will likely be less, Mr. Cherry told supervisors.
Everyone is working to keep the costs down, he noted, adding that interest is not reimbursable from FEMA. The county is getting $37 million for the construction of the new jail.
“There’s no frills here,” Mr. Cherry stressed. “We’re trying to economize.”
The new public safety facility, which will include extended water and sewer lines from where they terminate on Route 7, will, very likely, include some local share, he added.
“I feel Schoharie County taxpayers will see some local share,” he said.
“I’m not convinced it will be $7 million. It will more likely be like $3 or $4 million.”
Though the construction cost is estimated at more than $44 million, in his experiences, Mr. Cherry said that engineering firms commonly estimate high.
“They don’t want to be embarrassed if the bids come in higher.”
The bids will likely come in lower, he added, like those for the rebuilding of the Blenheim bridge.
Once the bids come in, the costs should not increase, he noted.
“People shouldn’t come to me with change orders because it’s not going to happen,” Mr. Cherry said.
It is likely that the local share will be paid off over 20 years, according to Mr. Cherry.
In the end, the county will have a new jail for a long time.
It is not like the streambank rehabilitation project, he added.

“Here you have a building that has a lifespan of 50, 100 years.”
Fulton Supervisor Phil Skowfoe asked about the impact on the county budget if the county has to borrow for the jail as well as the streambank project.
“The public safety facility does not pose a threat to county finances,” Mr. Cherry said.
There will be some cost for interest in 2018 and then costs will likely increase in the following years.
Bids are likely to go out in February or March and awarded next April, Mr. Cherry added.
A groundbreaking will likely be held next spring.
In other jail news, it has not yet been decided on which route the water and sewer extensions will go.
Engineers have to determine whether it is more cost effective to follow the southern route along Route 7 or a northern route along Howes Cave Road, past the Animal Shelter, and to the pump station on Goodfellow Road. It is very likely that the southern route will be chosen, Mr. Cherry said, but he added, “It’s too early to tell.”
The easements will take some time to collect, he noted.
Property owners will not be able to hook up into the extensions as FEMA has said that the jail has to be the only user on the line.
Supervisors Friday also agreed to advertise for a bid alternate for a 1,200 addition on the second floor of the jail that would house a training room/continuity of government room in case of an emergency in which the county building was not usable, such as during the flood.
This addition would be able to accommodate up to 60 people and would cost between $250,000 and $300,000 to construct.
The addition would not include space for the DMV.
The board also considered reconfiguring a 30-person training area meeting room into a COG space if needed. There would have been no additional cost for the project but would not have been big enough for all county agencies and departments in case of an emergency.