Jail builder John Hansen stuck to his recommendation of an 11-classification, 50-bed jail expandable to 74 beds, estimating the cost at about $6.35 million.

Hansen said May 15 that he and architect Rick Weidner looked at multiple scenarios in an attempt to get the cost under $6 million, but Hansen ultimately couldn’t recommend any of them. 

“You’re not building for 20 years,” Hansen said. “You have to have some expansion capabilities to 50, 70 years.”

Though the jail will have significantly more capacity than the previous design by Shive-Hattery, it is expected to cost about $600,000 less. Jail expense is driven by having “people in there 24 hours a day trying to figure out how to destroy the dang thing,” Hansen said.

Steel tariffs are driving up prices and market volatility in construction as well, Hansen said.

Jackson County Jail Advisory Committee members toured the Scott County Jail the previous day, returning with design suggestions and a cautionary tale about building too small.

The Scott County Jail is 10 years old but has been outgrown by the county, which transports prisoners to other county jails. 

“They brought that up a lot of times,” said Jackson County Supervisor Larry McDevitt. “We’ll be sending people your way. It’s a nice straight shot, a half an hour up the interstate” Scott County officials told the Jackson County contingent

Jon Thoms suggested that, if Jackson County could depend on money from housing prisoners from other counties, the county could separate out part of the cost from the bond — for example, the cost of the land — which might then be paid back from out-of-county fees deposited into the county’s general fund.

The jail committee will meet again May 29 to discuss a pre-election education campaign.

Meanwhile, in Delaware County, the county’s third attempt at a jail vote passed by more than 85 percent.