TOPEKA — Three companies submitted confidential bids Friday for financing construction of a replacement to the state’s largest and oldest prison in Lansing.
Plans by the Kansas Department of Corrections to build a new Lansing Correctional Facility fueled controversy among some lawmakers, who questioned the wisdom of a lease-purchase option preferred by the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback. Others recommended the state issue bonds to finance the project.
While information in the bids remained sealed, the state Department of Administration previously indicated CoreCivic, of Nashville, Tenn.; GEO Group, of Boca Raton, Fla.; and Lansing Correctional Partners, of Memphis, Tenn., were interested in the project.
State corrections officials are scheduled to brief a joint House-Senate committee Wednesday on the status of the effort to replace the prison.
“The timeline for construction is dependent on the Legislature,” said Samir Arif, spokesman for the corrections department.
Parts of the Lansing prison were built in the 1860s, and KDOC Secretary Joe Norwood said the project would result in a safer and more efficient prison.
In recent months, state prisons in El Dorado, Norton and Lansing experienced inmate turbulence. The state’s prison system has struggled with high employee turnover and staffing vacancies, leading Brownback to order across-the-board salary increases.
In July, the auditing division of the Kansas Legislature reported corrections department officials missed key variables and relied on “inconsistent assumptions” to produce a cost estimate of the lease-purchase arrangement for constructing a prison. The agency said the cost would be $155 million through 20 years, but legislative auditors contended the actual cost would be approximately $206 million.
The auditors recommended the state issue bonds to build the prison and contract with a company for its maintenance for an estimated investment of $178 million through two decades.