Bids were opened last week from three vendors and the bad news is that the bids came in much higher than city officials and the city’s consulting engineer had predicted.
“This is a budget buster,” City Manager Chris Addleton commented during his briefing to the mayor and council Monday night.
Consulting Engineer Stacy Watkins in a memo to Mayor Richard VanLandingham wrote, “all of the unit prices are within expectations with the exception of the water treatment plant building renovations.”
The average of the three bids for the renovations to the plant building was approximately $415,000.
Officials estimate the city could reduce the cost of the project by approximately $250,000 by utilizing city crews to do the work on the plant building. The improvements to the plant building include a new roof, removal and replacement of doors and windows, minor block work, and new valves and piping.
“We are taking it down to the shell. It will take us about three months to do the work,” Addleton said.
Watkins wrote, “I have full confidence in the city’s construction crew . . .”
Neither the city manager nor the consulting engineer could determine why the bids had come in so high for the rehabilitation of the water treatment plant building.
The apparent low bidder, including the cost of the building renovations, was from RTD Construction, Inc., of Zephyrhills, Fla., at $750,357.
The rehabilitation of the No. 1 water plant goes hand-in-hand with the erection of the new elevated water storage tank on the southwest side. City Manager Addleton says the new water tank will not go on line until the rehabilitation of the No. 1 water plant is complete.
Other work planned as part of the project is the rehabilitation of the ground level storage tank at the No. 1 plant and installation of a new Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system that allows the No. 1 plant and new elevated tank, as well as the entire water system, to “talk” back and forth.
Based on the recommendation of the engineer and the city manager, the council voted unanimously to reject the bids and to rebid the project omitting the work that will be done in-house.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas questioned whether city crews could perform other ongoing or planned projects while taking on this new project. City Manager Addleton said they could after discussing the project with Public Works Director Raymond Stokes and Public Works Superintendent Darrin Todd.
“We have one crew replacing water lines, one crew on the Alan Parks sewer project and one on this project. It’s not something we relish doing, but when you start talking about saving that type money it’s something we need to do. Our crew did the wastewater treatment plant building. We can do this,” Addleton said.
The city manager says the project will not actually be delayed because city crews will begin work on the building this week and will be working while the other services are rebid.