Three items related to the Marshall County Jail were on the agenda at the last County Commission meeting. The first item was increasing the inmate healthcare contract with Advanced Healthcare in the amount of $75,000 from the general fund balance.
Last year, they spent $634,000 on inmate health care.
County administrator Shelly Fleisher said even though they stopped using Advanced Healthcare at the beginning of August, the previous charges do not come until the next month. As of that meeting, the amount they were short was $75,000. They needed to put that money into the budget to cover it, Fleisher said.
Chairman James Hutcheson said they changed to Southern Health Partners at the beginning of August.
Sheriff Phil Sims said the new organization is working great. The staff is now on call 24/7 unlike the previous health partner. Sims explained the reason for this cost is possibly because the inmates were transported to the emergency room. The former health partner was not 24/7 and a lot of the inmates would wait until they knew the nursing staff was gone to have health problems.
Hutcheson said there was a $50,000 pool and they kept on transporting the inmates to the emergency room. He hopes that having the 24/7 nursing will cut down on the need for emergency room visits.
The contract this year is $472,000 with the new company, Sims said.
Attorney Clint Maze said the new healthcare company for the inmates was effective as of Aug. 1 and was voted on either in June or July.
Fleisher explained the $634,000 on health care is from the contractual payments, the pool funds and other expenses dealing with health care. For Southern Health Partners, they started their new contract on Aug. 1. For next year, they set aside the money to cover their expenses in the budget. The budget for 2019 jail healthcare had to be increased a couple times.
District 1 Commissioner Ronny Shumate’s understanding was that with the changes, the amount should come down drastically.
Fleisher said it should.
A lot of the charges from the 2019 budget was because they did not have nursing staff on site 24/7.
“A lot of the inmates knew that so they would wait until the nurse would go home and then all of a sudden they would have an issue and we would have to take them to the E.R.,” Sims said.
Shumate said the cost of healthcare has always been the biggest costs to any jail.
Fleisher said this year they have already gone over the pool by $186,000. That is over the budgeted $50,000. When Sims took office, the pool had already been used up.
Hutcheson wanted the public to know that the inmates are being taken care of and will continue to be taken care of.
The increase in inmate healthcare with Advance Healthcare in the amount of $75,000 from the general fund balance was approved. District 3 Commissioner David Kelley made the motion and District 4 Commissioner Joey Baker seconded it. The motion passed unanimously.
The next item that was discussed was the consultation services agreement with Martin and Cobey Construction Company, Inc. for jail bids and it would be paid from the courthouse and jail fund.
Sims updated the progress on the jail and he discussed that they were in the final process of moving everything. Unfortunately, they had a lot of sewage and shower water that flooded the area coming from the ceiling. They had to move the deputies down to the conference rooms to make it a makeshift patrol room.
That part of the building cannot be utilized until it can be repaired. Sims said he is looking at fast-tracking the renovations, but the problem is that no one at the sheriff’s department is an engineer or a project manager. They need someone who knows about building jails.
“We need someone that knows about jails, how to build jails, what jails are supposed to look like and how they operate,” he said.
The reason he brought this up was because he wanted to request to hire a project manager to oversee the projects underway in the jail. He said this is mainly for the “guts” of the project such as the plumbing and mold issues.
Right now, the sheriff’s department is looking at doing bid specs and they do not know what exactly what is needed. He said he spoke to Marshall County Engineer Bob Pirando about it and he was not certain on what was needed either. Sims was wanting someone who knew how to build jails.
Sims invited Kelley Howard, the project manager with Martin & Cobey Construction, to answer any questions and explain what his company does. Howard would work 20 hours a week at $130 an hour. Some weeks may take up to the 20 hours while some may not take that long.
Sims said basically Howard would come in and oversee all the renovations in the jail, on the first floor and in the dispatch area. This is not the part of the building that was built in 2000. This is the older part of the jail.
Howard walked through the building and had some working knowledge of what was going on inside the Marshall County Jail. The company has built multiple jails throughout Alabama including Limestone, Winston, Talladega and DeKalb.
Sims wants to fast-track this project and hiring Howard would allow him to focus 100 percent of the time on fixing the jail.
Hutcheson said the roof is almost complete along with the heating and cooling system being replaced. Once it is repaired, it should be good for at least 20 plus years. The roof should be finished one day this week.
Shumate spoke to Howard and asked him what the major issue is inside the jail. Howard responded with the plumbing. The water infiltrating the heating and cooling systems, the electrical systems and down the walls. There is a big problem with mold and deterioration from the excessive water in the walls. The ceiling, floors and cabinetry need addressing and these areas cannot be repaired, they will need to be replaced.
They are confident now that they know the leaks are not coming from the roof. The roof is nearly repaired and with the lack of rain, they know it is a plumbing issue.
There are several areas that are leaking. He said it is in the dispatch area and in the area where the public comes. They have had to clean the areas where the leaks are causing a mess in these areas. Shumate said it does not look good in the public areas when they have buckets catching the raw sewage.
Martin & Cobey Construction Company, Inc. will only be hired for their knowledge on jail construction not as the ones doing the labor. They will still need to hire an outside construction company to do the actual work. This would need to be bid out, attorney Clint Maze said. It is not uncommon for other professional services to help draft the bid work orders and then allow all the bidders to have the same scope of work to bid on.
Sims said the consultant would be there for the county’s interests. He would make sure that the bids are being kept and the county is not getting played. He is there to make sure that the company is keeping with the right time frame, make sure they are staying on task and using the correct materials.
Sims said the main reason he is wanting a project manager is so that they are not back in the same position in just five years. They need to get it right the first time.
Howard will have to do an update on the jail renovation at the Commission meetings. Hutcheson would like him to speak about the progress.
Maze said he read over the paperwork and with the clarification that Martin & Cobey cannot bid on the work being done, he is okay with it. There is a 7-day window for canceling this contract on both ends. If the commission is not happy with the services, they can simply vote to cancel the contract. There is a cap of 20 hours a week as well which totals $2,600 a week.
County engineer Bob Pirando wanted to reiterate that the construction manager is not actually involved in the construction.
Although the construction manager is an expense at the front end of the project, Maze said in the long run he will save the Commission money because he is there to make sure the project is done correctly and with the right materials.
Sims said he needs this work done as soon as possible. They have been doing maintenance, but there needs to be some permanent fixes.
The consultation service agreement with Martin & Cobey Construction Company, Inc. for jail renovation to be paid from courthouse and jail fund was approved. Ronny Shumate made the motion and District 2 Commissioner Rick Watson seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
The last item for the jail was to approve the replacement of a 4-ton HVAC unit on the roof of the jail. The cost is $7,500 and will be charged to the jail roof repair bid that will be paid from the courthouse and jail fund.
The unit they are replacing is about 25 years old and since they have the equipment for the roof, they were going to replace it now instead of having to get the equipment again. The cost will be lower because they already have the equipment needed.
The units will be basically new and Hutcheson said hopefully that will be the end of the roof issues.
Kelley made a motion to approve the replacement of a 4-ton HVAC unit on the roof of the jail in the amount of $7,500 and change order to the jail roof repair bid to be paid from the courthouse and jail fund. Shumate seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.