State audit contradicts Dept. of Corrections on cost of Lansing lease-purchase plan – Topeka Capital Journal

A legislative audit launched Monday claims that the Kansas Division of Corrections missed “key variables” and relied on “inconsistent assumptions” that tended to favor a costlier methodology of changing the state’s largest and oldest jail.

Based on the audit, the Division of Corrections underestimated the cost of rebuilding Lansing Correctional Facility via a lease-purchase settlement, a contract that enables a personal firm to construct the jail after which lease it again to the state till the state purchases it. That choice would seemingly be scrapped as a result of of the outcomes of the audit, mentioned J.R. Claeys, a Salina Republican and chair of the transportation and public security finances committee.

The audit says a preliminary estimate from KDOC positioned the venture cost at $140 million over 20 years. The full cost predicted by KDOC was $155 million, however the audit report contends that it might cost $206 million. Auditors discovered that the best choice can be for the state to problem bonds to construct the jail and contract with an organization for its upkeep.

“These outcomes differ from KDOC’s preliminary estimates, which had been lacking key variables and used inconsistent assumptions that tended to favor a lease-purchase choice,” the audit says.

KDOC is now within the course of of receiving bids to construct the jail in response to a request for proposals that it issued in April, in response to the audit. Bids are due Friday. KDOC Secretary Joe Norwood mentioned in a letter in response to the audit that the division would settle for auditors’ assist selecting a bidder to contract with.

Defective assumptions

The audit says the division failed to incorporate in its cost estimates the ultimate value it might pay to purchase again the jail on the finish of the lease, didn't alter costs over time, introduced completely different building prices based mostly on the possession association and neglected what auditors discovered to be the least costly choice. It mentioned the least costly choice — constructing the jail with bond cash and contracting its upkeep — would cost $178 million over 20 years.

KDOC didn't dispute any of the findings of the audit, in response to a abstract of the report.

Rep. John Barker, an Abilene Republican and chair of the Legislative Publish Audit committee, mentioned he thought the Division of Corrections was receptive to the findings and that auditors discovered prices KDOC neglected.

Rep. Dan Hawkins, R-Wichita, mentioned he thought the division or administration had been leaning towards a lease-purchase choice.

In an e-mail, KDOC spokesman Todd Fertig mentioned the company was “open to whichever funding choice is finest for the state.” He mentioned the actual cost of the venture wouldn't be recognized till the state will get bids from builders.

Funds impartial

Based on the audit, KDOC has claimed the venture wouldn't have a big influence on the state’s finances.

The audit says the state may discover financial savings by combining most and medium safety prisoners into one constructing and decreasing workers. Financial savings may be realized with a extra vitality-environment friendly constructing than those now at Lansing, together with one constructed within the 1860s.

Senate Minority Chief Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, mentioned he was involved diminished staffing would result in extra disciplinary issues, like current outbreaks at El Dorado Correctional Facility.

“That issues me as a result of we’ve seen what’s occurred in El Dorado, the place they’re understaffed, they’ve needed to work double shifts and we’ve had some actual safety issues down there among the many inmates,” Hensley mentioned.

Claeys, nevertheless, mentioned Lansing already requires the next stage of staffing as a result of of its age. A contemporary constructing, he mentioned, would require staffing much like that at El Dorado, which is at present understaffed. Rebuilding Lansing, Claeys mentioned, would assist stop uprisings at overcrowded prisons like El Dorado Correctional Facility, which has seen a number of incidents in current weeks. He mentioned the jail’s inhabitants has been rising with none new area given to inmates, and it faces extreme staffing shortages.

“I feel having Lansing rebuilt actually alleviates some of the strain on El Dorado,” Claeys mentioned.

Claeys mentioned he had a proposal for the approaching legislative session to lift wages for correctional officers to assist fill staffing shortages.

Legislative motion

“We’re going to do one thing, and it must be a precedence,” Barker mentioned.

Claeys mentioned the Legislature would go together with a plan “that’s the least costly for taxpayers and will get us the end result of a contemporary, environment friendly jail facility at Lansing.”

He mentioned a provision included within the finances lawmakers handed in June would be sure that a plan for the jail will get approval from the Legislature.

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State audit contradicts Dept. of Corrections on cost of Lansing lease-purchase plan - Topeka Capital Journal