SILVER SPRINGS - Controversy over the bidding process for the new Silver Springs waste water treatment system is brewing.
When county commissioners awarded contracts to the low bidders for a community waste water treatment system, one contractor threatened to withdraw.
Bidding packages were divided into two parts: the building of the water treatment facility, and the construction of the sanitary sewer collection system. The second part allowed for the possible awarding of three separate contracts.
Acting as the Silver Springs General Improvement District Board of Directors, the commissioners followed the recommendations of the general improvement district consulting engineer, John Connell.
K.G. Walters Construction Co. was named to build the reclamation facility at a cost of $3,035,000.
In order to allow for companies with lower bonding capacities to be eligible to participate, bids for the sewer collection system were divided into three separate projects. Contractors were allowed to submit bids for one, a combination of any two, or all three schedules.
A&K Earth Movers put bids in for all three and was named the winner on two, at a total cost of $2,627,161. The remaining contract went to TW Construction for $2,461,114.
Claiming county bidding requirements were not adhered to, A&K Earth Movers officials said the contractor would consider withdrawing its bids. They also claim allowing one contract on all three portions would save the county $500,000.
A&K chief financial officer Michael Nicholls said, "Our bonding company has recommended we pull out even if we forfeit our $130,000 security bond if you do not award us all three bids. When we bid, we did all three together."
Successful bidders must deliver a contract and required bonds within 10 calendar days of the awarding.
A&K representatives did not immediately commit to that requirement.
In a letter dated Nov. 29, A&K Earth Movers officials claimed bid deductions for winning two or more of the bids for the project were not properly figured into the county's final bid numbers.
The letter read, "Award of anything but all three schedules to A&K Earth Movers would create a discrepancy in the fair bidding practice for state and federal projects."
The district's legal counsel, George Benisch, reviewed the letter and said he backed Connell's recommendations.
"The arguments in the letter were found to be inconsistent with the state of Nevada statutes governing the award of public contracts," Benisch stated. "A&K's numbers are speculative, at best."
Commissioner and owner of a construction company in Smith Valley, Phyllis Hunewill said she had reviewed the proposals with Connell and believed the process had been followed and bids correctly awarded.
"I felt this was set up well for small contractors. It was made clear that each bid was to be made separately. It is a risk they (A&K) took when they bid on it. The process worked well," she said.
If A&K pulls out, commissioners awarded separate contingency bids for the two projects to Q&D Construction and T&S Construction.
All contracts is conditional upon approval of the two funding agencies: Department of Agriculture Rural Development and the Economic Development Administration.