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MEEKER | With more than $500,000 in grant funds on the table, Meeker’s board of trustees voted 3-2—with trustee Dan Conrado absent—to award the contract for the water supply improvement project to the lowest bidder Tuesday. Michael Yost, vice president of Olsson Associates, appeared before the board to respond to their questions and to introduce himself as the town’s new primary contact for the engineering firm.
Olsson had recommended that the board accept the lowest bid for this phase of the project, which includes upgrades and improvements to the electrical system and the computerized monitoring system for the town’s water supply. Some trustees expressed concerns about the way the bids were presented and wanted the option to choose the local bidder even though that bid was higher.
There were three responsive bidders for two bid packages.
Yost responded to questions he had received.
“Did any or all of the bidders ‘load’ one package vs the other? Our opinion is no, they did not. We had a prebid meeting to answer their questions, which we answered in a formal addendum. Bidders were told each bid package had to stand on its own,” Yost said.
Bidders were required to present bid security. “We checked all the boxes,” Yost said. Bidders were required to provide references, statements of qualifications, and two of three presented a schedule. “We at Olsson believe you got three competitive bids by three qualified contractors.”
Yost said questions about the bids being set at a stipulated price is a “common practice,” and pointed out that “the apparent low bids came very close to Olsson’s estimate. The bids came in as we expected they should.”
Trustee Travis Day was still uncomfortable with the way the bids were divided between two different contractors, and how the money was split between the two packages.
“I’m still not comfortable with it, but it’s up to the rest of the board,” he said.
“We have absolutely no reason not to recommend awarding the bid to the lowest bidder, frankly,” Yost replied. “In all humility, this is not our first rodeo. We’re very comfortable handling this and protecting the interests of the Town of Meeker.”
Trustee Wendy Gutierrez said she preferred a more balanced approach, and “liked the possibility of awarding to a local bidder if at all possible.”
Mayor Regas Halandras responded, “Do we save the taxpayers—do they want to spend $18-20,000 more right off the bat to keep it local? In my mind we should be bidding as per Olsson’s recommendation.”
In the end, the board agreed to award the bid to R&A Enterprises for $340,948 for the electrical upgrades and to Ridge Electric for replacement of the SCADA system for $150,603.
The board approved the 2018 budget and set the mill levy at a full 9.781 mills, choosing not to take the optional property tax reduction this year. Property tax revenue is projected at $208,000.