Napa County will seek bidders to construct a $17.2 million, 72-bed jail re-entry facility to help break the cycle of recidivism, though it might have to scrape up another $800,000 or so.
The re-entry facility is to be located along Highway 221 near the Syar quarry. It will offer educational and behavioral programs, job training and other programs to inmates who are nearing the end of their sentences.
This isn’t the new jail the county wants to build someday at this same 27-acre site, but rather a separate, long-planned project designed to prepare inmates to re-enter society, secure a job and avoid committing more crimes.
“It’s still a place of incarceration, but it’s more transitional, if you will,” Supervisor Diane Dillon said.
Features are to include four housing units, day rooms, a recreation yard, kitchen and dining space, central controls, visitation rooms, counseling rooms and administrative space. Construction is to begin next spring and take about 15 months.
The Board of Supervisors on Dec. 6 authorized advertising for construction bids to build the re-entry facility. Of the $17.2 million estimated total—including design costs already spent—$13.4 million is coming from the state and $2.9 million from the county.
That leaves an estimated gap of about $884,000, depending on the bid results, a county report said. The reason is higher-than-anticipated rises in material and labor costs.
“When the bids come in, that could resolve itself,” Public Works Director Steven Lederer said. “Or it could be more. You don’t know what the bids will be until you open the envelopes.”
That should happen in late January, with the bid results going to the Board of Supervisors.
In addition, the county will pay an estimated $4.2 million for sewer lines, water lines and other utilities to serve both the re-entry facility and the future jail targeted for the same property. It has approved spending $223,000 to date, a county report said.
Lederer said the remaining $4 million will come from money set aside for the proposed, new county jail.
One feature missing from the re-entry facility bid plans approved by the Board is a project labor agreement with local unions, a topic supervisors discussed on several occasions over the past year.
Project labor agreements are pre-bid collective bargaining agreements negotiated with labor organizations that must be followed by contractors. They stipulate such things as wages and benefits for construction projects and usually include no-strike clauses.
“It’s a streamlined process, we get things done fast, we get things done on budget,” said Danny Bernardini of Napa Solano Building Trades Council. “You can guarantee the workers will get the money they are promised. There won’t be any cheating of wages going on.”
Neighboring Solano County used project labor agreements with the Napa Solano Building Trades Council over the past decade when constructing such projects as an $89 million jail expansion and $19 million health and social services building.
But project labor agreement opponents say the arrangements can keep non-union contractors from bidding on a project and drive up costs.
In late 2015, the Board of Supervisors first began discussing the issue for the re-entry facility. Supervisors saw the re-entry facility as possibly being a pilot project for more project labor agreements, such as one for the new jail.
Supervisor Mark Luce wanted to explore using a project labor agreement as a vehicle for a local hire policy that would favor local construction workers.
Negotiations took place in recent months between the county and labor. But the Board voted Dec. 6 to put the re-entry project out to bid in a consent calendar item that made no mention of a project labor agreement.
“The timetable we were under, we weren’t able to reach consensus,” Chairman Alfredo Pedroza said after the meeting.
Luce said he’s very disappointed the project won’t have a project labor agreement.
“Long story short, we just weren’t able to come to terms,” Luce said. “We just basically ran out of time. We had to get the bid out.”
The labor officials apparently didn’t want a precedent set by some of the language proposed by the county, he said.
Bernardini expressed disappointment the talks had proven unfruitful. He said the county during negotiations had received some bad, anti-union advice.
From the start, the county has showed a degree of caution on project labor agreements. A staff report from December 2015 said county consultants had estimated an agreement could add $925,000 to the cost for the re-entry facility, a point disputed by the unions.
But the failure to reach a project labor agreement for the re-entry facility doesn’t mean the county has ruled out looking at the arrangement for future projects.
“We’ll always be coming back and trying to tell people the benefits of using a project labor agreement,” Bernardini said.