Archive for Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Bid process called into question

November 26, 2002

Basehor residents and business owners question whether a bid unanimously approved by the Basehor City Council during its meeting last week was done correctly and fairly.

The bid awarded to Miles Excavating Monday, Nov. 18, is for construction of the Kansas Highway 24/40 sewer interceptor project.

The council's decision went against a recommendation from the city's engineering firm Ponzer Youngquist.

Discussion on the item took place in executive session because there were questions concerning the bids' legality, city officials said.

The decision has raised a few eyebrows among residents and business owners.

In a letter to the Sentinel this week (see page 9A), residents and business owners questioned why the bid was awarded to Miles, which listed the eighth lowest cost for the project, approximately $1.1 million, out of 13 bidders.

The least expensive bid submitted for the interceptor project came from Wilson Plumbing at $836,000.

Basehor resident and developer Steve Cole, who questioned the bid during the meeting and helped circulate the letter to residents and business owners, said awarding the bid compromises the integrity of an open bid process.

"The low bid would only be negated or ruled out if (the City Council) had concluded (Wilson) could not do the work," Cole said. "They've been in business for 40 years. They're certainly not a new company or new to the business."

Cole said he spoke to approximately 15 to 20 residents and business owners about the bid process. He used that information as context for the letter opposing the bid.

Cole, who is the prime developer for Prairie Lakes at 150th Street and Kansas Highway 24/40, also handles some excavation work.

He said his reason for opposing the bid wasn't to cut into the competition his company did not bid the interceptor project but to maintain a fair and honest bid process.

Basehor Mayor Joseph Scherer defends the council's decision to choose Miles Excavating for the project.

"The bid was awarded to Miles Excavating because (the City Council) felt their bid was the best bid," Scherer said, adding that city officials had no more comments concerning the bid.

But also at issue is cost, in addition to the bid process.

The interceptor project is funded through a state revolving loan and a benefit district consisting of nearby property owners.

By choosing Miles's bid, the city is spending an extra $217,000, opponents said.

The cost differential could be addressed when the bid contract is submitted to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment later this month.

Rod Geisler, KDHE chief of municipal programs, said the department will review the bid contract when submitted and would determine when the project would move forward.

"We haven't seen any of the paperwork yet," Geisler said. "But of course they will have to explain what they're wanting to do before anything is approved."

By law, cities do not have to accept the lowest bids for projects where state funds are used.

However, because so many other companies were bypassed in favor of Miles, Geisler said Basehor city officials would have to provide sufficient explanation for their decision.

The interceptor project will run from the Basehor Wastewater Treatment Facility to the highway and connect with developments south of the highway, along County Road 2.

The line will also run east along the highway to 150th Street and connect with developments.

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