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Board hires construction manager to oversee Lee County jail project

DIXON – The county will hire a construction manager to oversee work on a new law enforcement center.

The Lee County Board on Tuesday approved hiring Cherry Valley-based Ringland-Johnson Construction, contingent on agreeing to a contract rate. The company managed the work for building the Winnebago County Jail.

Though a final figure has yet to be determined, the cost of a construction manager is usually about 8 to 10 percent of a total project, which could range from $1.2 million to $1.7 million, given the jails’ estimated $15 million to $17 million cost.

Board member Dave Bowers said a construction manager would be better suited and a more efficient choice than a general contractor to handle the scale of the project.

The company will be involved from design to completion, and the county will be able to weigh in on separate bids for the work, which could result in overall cost savings, he said.

“This will help us get the highest quality facility at the lowest cost,” he said.

The measure is one step in a lengthy to-do list for planning and financing the new law enforcement center, which will house an 80-bed jail, the sheriff’s department, the coroner’s office and the 911 Center.

The facility will be attached to the south side of the Lee County Courts Building, 309 S. Galena Ave., and construction is anticipated to start next spring.

Two ad-hoc committees tasked with planning and financing were formed last month and have met several times to hear presentations from various firms.

The board also approved St. Louis-based Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets Inc. to conduct a $10,000 feasibility study to better gauge how much revenue the half percent sales tax will bring in.

The county tax goes into effect July 1 and is estimated to bring in about $1.1 million a year, but board member Bob Olson said they need to have a more exact figure to make sure they can afford their bond payments.

“The worst thing would be to lock us into a bond payment we can’t make,” he said.

The county is leaning toward paying for the project with a mix of alternative revenue bonds and a bank loan, which could provide a cushion with making the payments if needed, Olson said.

Before finalizing an interest rate, the county also will need to go through the process of determining its bond rating.

Lee County States Attorney Matt Klahn said he plans to draft an agreement with Chicago-based Chapman and Cutler to represent the county throughout the bonding process because of the firm’s experience in this scope of financing.

The cost is estimated at $50,000.


The Lee County Board next meets at 6 p.m. June 20 in the third-floor board room of the Old Lee County Courthouse, 112 E. Second St.

The agenda will be posted at 2 days before the meeting.

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