Council balks at awarding no-bid sewer contract

The Henderson City Council chose not to award a full contract for sewer rehabilitation to the engineering firm of O’Brien & Gere during Monday’s regular meeting.

The project which will consume $500,000 of grant money and the same amount in loan funds will rehabilitate one and a half miles of sewer in the city. The first phase of the project is a preliminary engineering report which is due on January 3, 2011 at a cost of $10,000.

Member Mike Rainey asked Assistant City Manager Frank Frazier if the job had been put out for bids. Frazier responded that it had not, but that he had checked on previous projects of the contractor and that personnel employed by O’Brien & Gere had worked with the city before.

Under questioning, Frazier also told members that the construction firm would be charging Henderson an hourly rate for its services.

City Manager Ray Griffin explained that unlike a basic bid, professional procurement such as had been employed to retain O’Brien & Gere is different. He said that city staff feels it can save money by retaining professional services by the method it had employed in recommending the construction firm.

Member Mike Inscoe stated that he would like to see the city go back and see if it could renegotiate a better figure. He went on to say there is a professional engineer on staff to do inspections that O’Brien & Gere would be doing, and said that there are other firms “that would love to have a chance at this fee”.

The city recently hired Peter Sokalski as its engineer, a position that was vacant since Frazier was promoted to Assistant City Manager in 2007.

Member Garry Daeke expressed agreement with Inscoe.

So as not to delay the project, the council authorized O’Brien & Gere to do the preliminary engineering report for $10,000, but did not authorize the remainder of the work.