Jackson County legislators on Monday approved more repairs to the County Detention Center but also stressed that they want to make sure taxpayers are getting the most for their dollar.
Legislators awarded a $128,569 contract to Desco Coatings of Olathe for flooring work. The county is getting that cost by going through an existing government contract – this one through the University of Kansas – a common practice when one government in the area locks in a favorable price for goods or services.
But Legislator Dan Tarwater, D-Kansas City, said the county – though pressed to make significant repairs to the jail – should take the time to bid this work itself and make sure it’s getting the best price.
“There’s a lot of companies here in Jackson County that do this kind of work too,” he said.
Legislators Greg Grounds, R-Blue Springs, and Alfred Jordan, D-Kansas City, expressed the same concern. Grounds said the work is needed quickly so he supported the contract. Jordan voted no in a committee meeting, though the contract went through when the full Legislature voted.
Legislators also approved a $579,326 contract – again taking advantage of an existing contract, this one through the federal General Services Administration – for repairs and replacement of doors at the jail. That contract is with Cornerstone Detention Services of Madison, Alabama.
The Legislature in recent months has approved repairs and replacement of 488 sliding doors, addressing a need that the administration of County Executive Frank White said was first identified about a decade ago. The contract approved Monday is for work on the first 39 of 89 “safety vertical doors” that need also attention.
Grounds pressed for the county to bid that work out.
“We want to make sure we are still good stewards of public money …” he said.
The county has struggled with high turnover and short staff among corrections officers, as well as security issues. Officials say the design of the jail itself, in downtown Kansas City, contributes to some of those problems.
The county is scheduled to receive a major report from a consultant this week regarding the overall physical condition of the jail, and next Tuesday legislators and those in the county executive’s office are to discuss long-term jail issues.