Marion County officials seeks to cut costs for new Jasper Middle School after bids come in $9 million too high

Staff Photo by Stephen Hargis / Jasper Middle School in Marion County, Tenn., is shown Monday. Marion County Schools officials are working with contractors to try and reduce the price of a replacement facility for Jasper Middle after bids recently came in $9 million too high.

Bids for a new Jasper Middle School have come in almost $9 million higher than expected and higher than the amount already secured for the project, leaving Marion County, Tennessee, leaders searching for ways to fund the essentials.

Early this year, the county sold $25 million in bonds to fund the new school when interest rates were much lower and school system leaders estimated the cost to be that amount or less, Marion County Mayor David Jackson said Tuesday in a phone interview. The interest rate on that portion was 1.73%, he said.

The economy and inflation can be blamed for driving up bid prices and forcing the current review for savings, Jackson said. Fortunately, the county's bond rating is good enough to get another loan to cover additional costs without increasing property taxes, he said.