Construction and improvements on the Christian County Justice Center campus are on track and on budget, at least for now.

The Christian County Commission held a meeting that featured some back and forth discussion, some on-the-spot calculations. The commissioners, principal architect and the contractor agreed that they would stay under their budget of just more than $11.1 million.

“My contingent as everybody knows from Day 1 is I wanted to come to the end of this project and be able to say legitimately we went into it with a plan for $11.1 million and we finished it and the renovation and we were able to stay within that total budget,” Christian County Western Associate Commissioner Hosea Bilyeu said.

Dignitaries cut the ribbon and officially opened the 34,000-square foot Christian County Circuit Court building on March 29. The building sits to the south of the Christian County Justice Center, which was built in 2000.

Christian County Auditor Amy Dent calculated that there have been $10,081,573.44 actual dollars out the door for the circuit court building project as of April 11, 2019. Add a $432,000 payment to DeWitt  Construction on Aprill 11, a $8,850 payment to Paragon Architecture on April 11, and $403,000 remaining balance to finish to DeWitt Construction, and you reach $10,926,416.36, the most up-to-date estimated cost of the Christian County Circuit Court building.

Project Manager Michael Sutton of DeWitt and Associates and architect Michael Younglove of Springfield-based Paragon Architecture were in the commission chambers April 11 to go over the latest figures for the new building and for office renovations in the Justice Center. There is an estimated cost of $184,627 to renovate the Christian County Justice Center in order to accommodate the desired changes for the Christian County Circuit Clerk’s Office and the Christian County Sheriff’s Office.

“The $11.1 million budget that we started with—did that not include some renovation funds?” Bilyeu asked.

“Yes. We had allocated $85,000 and we were hoping that is a planned expense since August of 2017, so I was under the impression that was part of the expenditures, but it looks like it needs to be contained,” Younglove said.

An estimated price tag of $184,627 to renovate the Justice Center was based on a set of revisions requested in March.

“I still am having trouble wrapping my mind around the $85,000 that was in the original $11.1 million, and now we’re up to $10.9 million but somehow the $85,000 is not in there,” Bilyeu said.

“Well, we have been allocating that cost. I think the gap is the direct order costs are starting to run higher than what we had been notified of, so that’s the gap,” Younglove said.

Younglove and Bilyeu calculated that the remainder from the Christian County Circuit Court building plus about $63,000 in contingency funds added up to $237,398.13 left to renovate the Justice Center, leaving about $52,000 in the budget.

“We have approved the renovation, we just now have accurate numbers,” Bilyeu said. “We’re going ahead with it. I don’t want any uncertainty there.”

“This is more to clarify the actual raw numbers,” Presiding Commissioner Ralph Phillips added.

The commissioners pledged to watch the spending carefully as renovations occur. If necessary, Phillips pledged there will be sacrifices.

“Should we reach that point where exceeds (the budget), I just want the record to reflect that if we can only do a partial renovation, than my position is that offices for the criminal investigators be priority No. 1,” Phillips said. “There’s wants and there’s needs, and there is definitely a need, a critical need for that.”

“I’d say the same thing,” Christian County Eastern Associate Commissioner Mike Robertson said.

Bilyeu doubled down on his call for all Justice Center campus projects to stay under budget, unless department heads wish to contribute funding from their own budgets for additional work.

“That also says to all of our elected officials—the folks that are over in the new facility and, for that matter, the renovated ones—that doesn’t include anything they decide they want to buy or whatever, so that becomes an issue on our part to be sure that they don’t buy things, first of all, that are not approved and secondly, that they better be looking at being able to cover it out of their own budget,” Bilyeu said.

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