- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Marion County taxpayers are on the hook for $750,000 payments each to two consortiums whose bids lost out on the construction of a new criminal justice center in Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1INPU9U ) reports the payments will be made to Indy Justice Partners and Plenary Edgemoor Justice Partners. Officials in Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s administration say it’s part of the process to pay bidders for a project as complex as the 35-year, $1.75 billion plan for the criminal justice center.

Trevor Brown, director of the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University, said that “it’s seen as a best practice” to pay bidders on bigger projects. Payments give firms an incentive to put in the effort needed for a good proposal on something so complex.

“The whole game here is uncertainty,” Brown said. “If you’re the bidder, you’re uncertain about what your return is.”

Marion County has spent $5.5 million on consulting costs so far. Some City-County Council members are upset about the payments to losing bidders for what they say is a project that doesn’t have the council’s full backing.

Under a proposal, private firms would design, build, operate and maintain the new criminal justice facility for an annual fee, and Ballard says that would save money for taxpayers. The facility would be a consolidation of Marion County’s two jails, the Arrestee Processing Center and criminal courts, all located at the site of a former GM stamping plant.

The project is expected to be considered by the full council April 20.

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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