Archive for Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Council amends bidding process

June 4, 2008

Soon Paula Crook will finally have an answer to a question she has been asking for several council meetings.

Does the City of Tonganoxie really save money when it acts as a general contractor and has the city superintendent head street projects?

After a long and at times heated discussion between members of the Tonganoxie City Council, Butch Rodgers, city superintendent, Brian Kingsley, of BG Consultants, the city's engineering firm, and members of the audience, the council voted, 3 1, to amend their current purchasing policies to allow the city to skip the bid letting process when it is the general contractor on city projects. Crook dissented and council member Steve Gumm was absent.

The current purchasing policy states that any purchases of materials, supplies, services or equipment over $15,000 needs to be done under sealed bids. The new amendment to the policy states that the policy is not applicable, "when the city department is approved to act as the general contractor for a city project and subcontracts for materials, supplies, services or equipment, when it is anticipated that significant monetary savings will be benefited by the city as opposed to adherence to formal bidding policies."

This new amendment angered Crook, who stated that the city does not need to be in the general contracting business.

"All this is doing is just saying, 'OK, we are not going to follow what our policies are. We'll just change it to the way we do it,'" Crook said.

City staff and other council members argued that in the past, by having Rodgers and the public works department handle street projects and letting them choose their own subcontractors, the city has been able to save lots of money.

Crook argued that there was no way of knowing if the city would have saved money since the projects were never put out for bid. She also said that there is no way of knowing how much money would be saved since any subcontracting work needed has never been put out for formal bid but has just been given to Meadows Construction.

Rodgers defended himself.

"My goal in the last 23 years has been to try to save the taxpayers some money," he said. "If you don't want to save some tax money it's no sweat to me. You can bid every asphalt project; it doesn't really matter to me."

Soon after the vote on the purchasing policy passed, the issue of whether to bid out the street work on Second and Cox streets was presented to the council.

In a previous meeting, Kingsley had given the council two different estimates for the project.

His engineering estimates had a $481,052 project with an additional $5,000 in bid letting and advertisement costs as well as $52,750 for 60 days of construction observation for a grand total of $538,802.

Another estimate he presented the council had what the project would cost if the city was the general contractor.

Rodgers and his crew would be in charge of about $113,241 of the project and the remaining $337,230 would be left up to a subcontractor. The estimated cost would be $450,471.

Although he voted to amend the city's purchasing policy, council member Jim Truesdell motioned that the city put the Second and Cox street project out for bid. The motion was seconded by Crook and was passed, 3 1, with council member Tom Putthoff being the dissenting vote.

"I think it's going to be very informative," council member Jason Ward said after the vote.

In other business the council:

¢ Voted, 3 1, for pay request No. 5 for Meadows Construction for work completed on Pleasant Street. Crook was the dissenting vote.

¢ Unanimously approved a fireworks permit stand for Uncle Sam's Fireworks and Innovations. The stand will be at 886 North Star Ct.

¢ Unanimously voted to approve $33,610 in construction costs for storm sewer improvements at Twin Custom Wood Products.

¢ Unanimously agreed on operation times and pool rental rates for the new Tonganoxie Water Park.

¢ Unanimously voted to purchase a Takeuchi TL 130 Track Loader from Victor L. Phillips Co. for $32,745.

¢ Voted, 2 2, to spend $6,000 on a fireworks display for Tonganoxie Days. Mayor Mike Vestal broke the tie in favor of contracting for the display, which was contingent on continued support from the Tonganoxie School District, the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission and approval from the Kansas Department of Transportation. The show will be held at Chieftain Park, but a circular area 840 feet in diameter from the park will need to be clear of people and vehicles. City staff planned for spectators to be able to park at the Tonganoxie High School and watch the show from the bleachers at Beatty Field or from the grass at the stadium.

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