MIDDLEPORT — Middleport Village Council held an emergency meeting on Monday evening to discuss the bids submitted for Phase 3 of the sewer separation project in the village.
Bids for the project were opened last week, with the meeting on Monday scheduled in anticipation of accepting the bid for the project.
Due to what the engineer hired by the village called a “mathematically unbalanced bid” council, Village Administrator Joe Woodall and others held discussion on how to proceed.
Woodall read the letter received on Monday afternoon from Brian J. Schmidt of Choice One Engineering to council.
“Through our evaluation of all bid documents, Fields Excavating, Inc. appeared to be the lowest bidder,” stated Schmidt in the letter. “After analyzing all bid items, Choice One Engineering found reasonable doubt that several unit prices submitted by Fields Excavating, Inc. are mathematically and materially unbalanced.”
A “mathematically unbalanced bid” is one that contains unit price items that do not include reasonable labor, equipment, and material costs plus a reasonable proportionate share of the bidder’s overhead costs, other indirect costs, and anticipated profit, according to Schmidt’s letter. Also according to the letter, a “materially unbalanced bid” is when it is determined that awarding to the lowest bidder submitting a mathematically unbalanced bid will not result in the lowest ultimate cost to the village.
The example given by Schmidt was with regard to soil conditions and asphalt needs.
“If the soil conditions are unfavorable and regardless of what contractor it is, more asphalt needs to be used, the low bidder is not the low bidder anymore; or if at the completion of the project rock was not encountered and is non-performed, the low bidder is not the low bidder anymore,” stated Schmidt.
Schmidt’s letter concludes, “It is our recommendation not to award the project to Fields Excavating, Inc. but instead award to the next lowest bidder Tribute Contracting & Consultants, LLC.”
Fields Excavating, of Kitts Hill, Ohio, submitted an overall bid of $1,919,200, with Tribute Contracting & Consultants LLC, of South Point, Ohio, submitting an overall bid of $1,928,433.70. A third bid was received from D.V. Weber Construction Inc. of Reedsville in the amount of $2,024,312.15.
While there is only an approximate $9,000 difference between Fields and Tribute, one of the main differences noted during the meeting was the asphalt cost. In Fields’ bid, the asphalt cost was $400 per unit, while in the Tribute bid it was $240 per unit.
After the letter was read, council discussed what action should be taken on the matter.
Council President Ben Reed said that when looking at a $1.9 million project a difference of around $9,000 was not that much. Reed noted that the engineering group did their job and sent the recommendation, which he was leaning toward based on that recommendation.
Fiscal Officer Sue Baker said that it comes down to if the village trusts the engineer to make the recommendation.
Council members asked if the engineer recommendation only looks at the bid or if it looks at past performance of the companies as well.
They asked Woodall about his experience with the two companies.
Woodall noted that Fields is currently working in the village, working on phase two of the project, and has been “very professional and good to work with.” Fields has also stayed on budget as far as their bid on the current phase.
Woodall stated he has no experience with Tribute.
Council asked Woodall to research Tribute to find out if there have been other villages satisfied with their work, or dissatisfied.
Council asked about the chances of going over the bid amount, with Woodall and Village Solicitor Rick Hedges noting that there are always change orders that will alter the amount.
Pavement, which is where one of the biggest differences is in the bid, is one of the areas that has a potential for change orders depending on what is encountered, said Woodall.
Council member Brian Conde noted that Choice One appeared to be concerned with the asphalt difference of $400 versus $240 which is a considerable difference over the course of a project.
Woodall said he would not make a recommendation on Monday evening as to what contractor to select, but advised that a decision needed to be made quickly or they would risk losing funding.
Of the project, a total of $1,894,092 is grant funded for the construction phase.
Following a nearly 50-minute discussion, council decided to hold another special meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday, in order to allow time to research the company recommended by the engineer.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.