Harford County Detention Center

Inmates at the Harford County Detention Center suffering mental health problems or drug addiction will soon have more help available to them while they're incarcerated. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Patuxent Homestead / May 23, 2012)

Inmates at the Harford County Detention Center will have access to increased health care services, mainly aimed at those suffering from mental illness or drug addiction.

The Harford County Board of Estimates approved a contract Thursday morning not to exceed $3,241,834 to Conmed Healthcare Management Inc., of La Plata.

Harford has held the detention center's contract for health services with Conmed for several years, and this is the last remaining extension year for this particular contract.

Capt. Tanya M. Jackson, administrative services division commander, told the board that the detention center has been "seeing more and more inmates suffering from mental health and substance abuse [issues]."

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The number of services will be increased, Jackson said, because there will be 24-7 care for inmates in need of constant supervision.

Director of Procurement Debbie Henderson added there will also be a new unit with an additional 48 beds for inmates.

Conmed's hourly rate only went up 3 percent over last year, she continued, and the rest of the contract increase "is increased services."

Water and sewer central office building

The board rejected a contract for up to $5.3 million to Forrester Construction Co., of Rockville, to design and construct a new building for the division of water and sewer.

The three-story, 25,500 square-foot building would serve as the main business and engineering office for the department at the Abingdon Water Treatment Plant.

"The architecture will complement that of the existing Abingdon Water Treatment Plant," read a memo from Deputy Director of Public Works, Water and Sewer Division, Joel Caudill to Henderson.

Jackie Ludwig, also with the division of water and sewer, told the board the building would "incorporate the needs of today as well as the future," and Forrester was familiar with government contracting.

Board member Jay Van Deusen asked what steps had been taken to keep costs down.

The building was originally going to be 30,000 square feet, Ludwig said, but was reduced to 25,000.

As detailed in the memo to Henderson, design elements and equipment used in the construction process "will be based on a high-efficiency, sustainability and lowest life-cycle costs."

Member Warren Hamilton asked if Forrester was required to stick to budgeted costs for each item, or if it was the overall budget they needed to stay within.

Warren Walker, who was on the committee that reviewed the proposals and ultimately chose Forrester, explained that the company was asked to stick to the bottom line and if any money is saved on an item, that money would go into a contingency fund that could be used if another item goes over what was budgeted.

If there was still money leftover once the project was complete within budget and on time, Walker went on, that money would be split equally between the firm and the county.

Henderson added that the estimated project completion date was May 2014 and if the project wasn't done by that date then Forrester wouldn't get its portion of the shared savings.

Hamilton then asked if the company could ask for more money if there was a change in condition or scope at the site that wasn't budgeted.