To The Herald-Whig:
At the Tuesday, Oct. 11 City Council meeting, the resolution accepting the bid for sidewalk repair came up for a vote before the full council. I attended that meeting and found the vote by three of the members a little confusing.
County Contractors, a local construction company, submitted the lowest qualified bid. Their bid of $44,010 was only 64 percent of the engineer's estimate of $68,420. The bid proposal clearly stated that the bidders had to be pre-qualified with the Illinois Department of Transportation as a requirement. Why? So that the city can be sure that the firm is reputable and qualified. Three firms chose to ignore, or didn't read, the proposal and submitted bids anyway. Those bids were not considered. If they wanted their bid to be considered, they should have followed the requirements. That insures a level playing field.
Alderman Havermale made the comment during discussion, and prior to the vote on the resolution, that, "We should be trying to include as many bidders as we can to get the best price for a taxpayer that we can." In my opinion, he should rephrase that to, "best value" instead of "best price." As everyone know "cheap" doesn't always equal "good."
Havermale also stated that there were qualified, local, reputable contractors whose bids were not considered. I don't know if the alderman is an expert on construction firms or not, but if he is going to voice that sort of opinion, I hope he has done his research. These bids ranged from a high of $61,754 to a low of $25,821. Now, if a project is estimated at over $68,000 and someone tells you they can do it for a little under $26,000, wouldn't that send up a red flag? It would be flying full staff on my flag pole.
To Aldermen Havemale, Farha and Sassen, who voted no on the resolution, please remember that the cheapest way is not always the best way. And if you don't like the criteria the city has in place for accepting bids i.e. IDOT pre-qualification, change it. It's time that the city had some sort of Responsible Bidder Ordinance that spells out exactly what the city deems a responsible bid.