Construction of Franklin County's jail could start as early as January or as late as March with completion by the end of the year or early 2014.
But who will oversee the construction of the project still is being worked out.
The $17.8 million expansion would add more than 200 beds to the jail.
County commissioners are trying to reach an agreement by next week with the city of Pasco about its use of the facility's space. The project includes plans for a separate office building that Pasco Municipal Court would move into.
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County Administrator Fred Bowen said hiring a firm to manage the project would cost as much as $250,000 a year, based on one estimate, but he still is collecting information.
Commissioners asked Bowen on Wednesday to provide a report on the options so they could fully consider each one.
"The sooner you can get us those options, the sooner we can move forward," said commission Chairman Brad Peck.
The current jail, designed for 103 beds but modified to 156 beds, has been over capacity for five years, as the county's population has grown and authorities have worked to suppress gang activity, Bowen said.
Franklin County voters approved a 30-year, 0.3 percent sales tax increase last fall.
Along with six pods containing space for 32 beds each, the tax increase will pay for a new two-story building for the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, dispatch center, information services and Pasco Municipal Court and a renovation of the old jail into a maximum security facility.
A portion of the sales tax increase also will pay operational costs once the facility is done, as well as any management costs during construction, commissioners said.
Commissioners want to request bids for the project by mid-December, but first must reach an agreement with Pasco on how much space the city will use in the office building portion.
The expansion is expected to be finished by the end of 2013 or early 2014. The timeline doesn't include the renovation of the old jail.
Bowen told the Herald the estimated cost of hiring a firm to manage the project came from conversations with a consultant. Hiring a single person reportedly would cost less, but he did not yet have enough information to give an accurate estimate.
Bowen said he is willing to manage the project if that is what the commissioners decide, but recommended the commission hire someone for two years to oversee the jail expansion and the renovation of the old jail.
He also reminded the board that he has suggested in the past that it hire a deputy county administrator to take on some of his workload.
"If I'm not going to be the manager (of the project), I can get this out of my head and move on to other things," he said.
Peck and Commissioner Rick Miller said they wanted to see written details of the management options along with Bowen's recommendation so the board can better consider them.
Peck told the Herald after the meeting that he is keeping an open mind but he agrees Bowen has other duties to attend to and isn't working for the county to manage construction projects.
"He has a job and we need him to do that job," he said.
However, Peck added that the county has financial constraints that could prevent hiring a deputy administrator. Hiring someone to manage the project would come from the sales tax revenue.
Commissioners are expected to talk again about the project's management at their Oct. 31 regular meeting.
-- Ty Beaver: 582-1402; email@example.com