VALPARAISO | Porter County government should expect to pay between $146,000 and $158,000 to prepare the third pod at the jail to house inmates after sitting vacant for its 11 years, according to a study unveiled Tuesday.
The Board of County Commissioners, who hired the DLZ engineering firm to assess the needs as part of an effort to relieve overcrowding in the other two jail pods, tabled the proposal to explore whether the job can be done for less than $150,000 to avoid the need to seek competitive bids.
The commissioners did approve an expenditure of just under $100,000 for water softener repairs at the jail building and new air conditioners for the E-911 department. The projects are associated because they too will be paid for from the $1.4 million generated by last year's refinancing of jail bonds.
The commissioners decided to move ahead with the preparation of the third pod last month after the County Council signaled its willingness to fund the nine new jailers needed to staff the additional section of the building.
The study, which Porter County Sheriff Dave Lain said was provided to him just a short time before Tuesday's commissioners meeting, identifies not only the needs to open the third pod, but also more than $700,000 in other proposed improvements. The list includes new cameras, intercoms and door locks.
The commissioners took most of those proposals under consideration to decide whether to seek a competitive bid as a whole or avoid that requirement by handling the projects individually.
When Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, raised concerns about the cleanliness of the third pod based on photos in the DLZ study, Lain said he has directed his resources to the parts of the building in use.
"It was essentially a big closet the last 11 years," he said.
In other business Tuesday, the commissioners announced the Porter County Expo Center director job will be going to Marcia Hoyt, who has been operating a bed and breakfast in Indianapolis.
Ken Blaney, husband of Porter County Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, had resigned from the post in September after serving 13 months.