- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The general contractor responsible for the new prison in Fort Madison has asked the state to pay $20 million more than agreed in their original contract, a corrections official said.

Janet Phipps, director of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, on Thursday told the House Government Oversight Committee that Walsh Construction of Chicago believes it is due somewhere around $20 million more for the company’s role in the project. She said the company says it provided resources or labor beyond what was outlined in the original construction contract.

This disclosure comes after the Iowa Department of Corrections confirmed that an often-cited $132 million cost for the empty Iowa State Penitentiary was inaccurate, and that the price tag had risen to $166 million. The facility, which was expected to open last year to house inmates from the old prison down the road, has remained vacant amid construction issues and repairs.

Rep. Clel Baudler, a Greenfield Republican, told the Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1ATe6Ze ) that the project has turned into a “colossal screw up” that will cost Iowa taxpayers. Phipps told Baudler and other committee members that she didn’t know when the prison will open or how much taxpayers will end up paying.

Sen. Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, said the situation needs to be investigated.

“We need to know why people are providing misinformation, or a lack of information, and what they are trying to hide,” he said.

Jimmy Centers, spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad, previously said the blame falls to Democrat Chet Culver’s administration, under which the plan was developed. Construction began in April 2010 while Culver was still governor.

Phipps said the state attorney general’s staff is reviewing the request from Walsh Construction. The company did not immediately respond to the Des Moines Register’s request for comment Thursday.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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