Supervisor demands answers regarding jail damage

POSTED: 01:55 PM PDT Apr 02, 2013 

The Board of Supervisors directed the Economic Development Agency today to further investigate water damage on a new wing of the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning to determine whether the contractor, designer or county should carry the complete cost of the forthcoming $567,000 repair job.

"We need to know when the flaw was discovered," Supervisor Jeff Stone told EDA Director Rob Field. "We need expert testimony as to what caused this problem. I hope it's covered by (warranty); otherwise, the citizens of this county are going to have to eat this cost. That's not acceptable to me."

The EDA proposed withdrawing $567,783 from a contingency fund to cover the expense of replacing walls and a section of floor in one of the pods added onto the Smith jail as part of an $80 million expansion completed in 2011.

According to Field, the walls and floor were damaged by a water leak traced to a "design flaw."

"We've advised them of what's occurred. We anticipate action to cover the cost of this failure," Field told the board. "The jail is functioning. But the failure is unacceptable, and we intend to address it and pursue action quickly."

Stone opposed authorizing the use of any funds for repairs until the county was certain the cost was reimbursable. He focused on the date on which the leak was discovered and reported to EDA. Field was unable to confirm that, nor could sheriff's officials immediately ascertain when the leak was found.

Stone noted that if the defect was located inside the 12-month warranty period guaranteed by the contractor, the county would not have to cover any part of the expense for repairs.

At Stone's urging, the Board of Supervisors voted to defer any action on the matter until next week, giving Field time to investigate and return to the board with answers.

The Smith Correctional Facility expansion involved constructing three housing units, covering 173,000 square feet, for a total of 582 additional inmate beds.