School

Surprise Testimony- School Construction Awarded to Arkel

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By Dave Freneaux

At a called meeting of the Central Community School Board on Tuesday the motion had been made and seconded to award the Middle and Intermediate School construction bid to The Lemoine Company.  The project, in excess of $30 million had initally been awarded to MAPP Construction, but The Lemoine Co. brought suit contending that MAPP's bid form was flawed.  The court ruled in Lemine's favor and the School Board meeting was called to award the project to Lemoine.  Just prior to the final vote an attorney spoke during public comment and pointed out that the bid of Arkel Henderson Joint Venture was actually the low bidder.  A flurry of activity ensued with attorneys, school system officials and bidders consulting and reviewing bid documents.
 
The issue is that every bid is expressed both in numerical form and in written words.  The Arkel numerical bid was $31,788,000 but the written words read "Thirty One Million Seven Hundred Eighty Eight Dollars", which is $787,212 lower than the numerical bid.  The law dictates that if the numerical bid conflicts with the written words, the written words are to be accepted as the bid.  This inconsistency was not caught during bid tabulation and had not been pointed out by anyone during the weeks of litigation over whether the bid would be awarded to MAPP or Lemoine.  With the discovery that Arkel's bid was actually the lowest responsive bid for the project, the School Board unanimously awarded the construction project to Arkel.
 
Discussions after the meeting yielded additional information.  Arkel's bid was presumed to be the higher numerical bid and the discrepancy between that and the written words was simply overlooked initially.  It appears that the lower price is not what Arkel intended to bid.  A general contractor in attendance speculated that Arkel probably had enoucgh profit margin in the bid to do the job at the lower price, but that they would not likely make much money on the job.  Bidders have 72 hours to withdraw their bid without penalty.  In this case, that 72 hours had passed, so for Arkel to withdraw at this point would cause them to forfeit their 5% bid bond, which would be a loss of over $1.5 million, twice the amount of the apparent error that was made.
 
In the final analysis, the oversight in not initially discovering the inconsistency in Arkel's bid delayed the award of the bid by 27 days and involved The School System and two contractors in a lawsuit.  The good news, for the School System at least, is that the total cost of the construction project has been reduced by roughly a half million dollars.  Ross Bogan, the School System's Construction Coordinator, was reached for comment and shared that he believes that school construction can still be completed on schedule and that Arkel has expressed a willingness try to accomodate Central's target dates.

4 Comments

  1. Ray

    August 19, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Hopefully the circus has left town and the school board can move forward in building our children much needed facilities. Congrats to board members for conducting themselves in an ethical manner. Maybe a $500,000 blessing will ease the frustrations endured.

  2. Larbo

    August 19, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    This was a much quicker decision than I could of imagined. I was sure, that with all of the lawsuits and bidders involved, that this would be tied up in the courts system for awhile. I have to say I am pleased that the dilemma has been resolved.

    How did this confusion all happen anyway? Is it just Central politics or is this the way business is done everywhere?

  3. Ray

    August 20, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Central”s only contribution to these theatrics, was having a premium project during an economic downturn.

  4. Mike Mannino

    August 20, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Agree Ray. We have the perfect scenario. Not much work out there which brings prices down. Mr Faulk always seems to hit it right. Better to be lucky sometimes !! I am excited about these new schools. Nothing will boost morale here better than a quality environment for our kids. This is the reason we started a city and its working out great.

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