After two rejected bids and further changes to plans for replacing piping in city hall, Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Walsten called it “a mess,” at city council on Monday.
City council voted, 7-1, to reject a bid by J&S Plumbing for $188,350. Fourth Ward Alderman Dick Sayad voted against the measure.
Sayad said his understanding of the situation was that the original estimate had to be changed. The changes were made, a new bidding process was completed, and the lowest bid was less than the original bid of $193,121.
“If the new bid was lower than the first one, and it reflected the corrections, why would we reject it?” Sayad asked Tim Oakley, director of public works and engineering.
Oakley said all the bids were higher than the city’s cost estimate of $175,000. In addition, while the bidding process was being completed, public works staff completed a number of renovations in city hall. They discovered, he said, public works employees and the plumbing inspector could complete the majority of the plumbing project.
The original intent was to avoid having city employees assigned to work on replacing the piping at city hall, Sayad said.
“It was, and we discovered we can do it in-house at a savings,” Oakley said.
. Several aldermen voiced concerns about the reputation among some residents of the winning bidder, Bishop Plumbing.
, said Oakley at the time.
Any work city staff could not complete would be put out for a third bid sometime next year, Oakley said.
“This has kind of turned into a little bit of a mess, actually,” Walsten said.
Sayad asked Michael Bartholomew, city manager, for copies of the requests for proposal, or RFP’s, moving forward.
“I want a copy of the RFP’s when they go out so I can see what’s going on here, because when I looked at these two here, it just didn’t seem proper to me,” Sayad said.
Sayad said to Oakley, “I just hope in the future before you put bids out you first evaluate whether you can do it.”
Fifth Ward Aldermen James Brookman said he understood why the scope of the project had changed after public works employees completed other work at city hall, and it was determined they could complete the plumbing work as well.
“I don’t think there’s anything improper here,” Brookman said.