City awards $521,000 contract

By Frank Lewis

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The city has awarded a contract for over half-a-million dollars to a local company after a series of bids and rejection of bids for replacement of the rapid mix chemical mixing tank system at the water purification plant.

The project had an engineer’s estimate of $380,000 in 2014, but when it was bid, the city only received one bid of $493,000 from Mechanical Construction.

The bid was rejected and the project re-evaluated. It was as a result of that re-evaluation that it was determined that several factors contribute to a higher engineer’s estimate. One factor was that the project was too small, being under a million dollars, to attract contractors from far away to come to Portsmouth to work. Another was that the contractors had enough work and were not hungry for work. City Manager Derek Allen also listed as factors the local workforce ordinance that requires contractors accepting contracts of over $100,000 to utilize local labor and Mechanical Construction is a local firm with local employees and the cost for construction was higher in 2014 than it had been in previous years.

For those reasons the engineer’s estimate was re-evaluated and revised to $475,000 and to fund the project cost increase the city of Portsmouth applied to the Ohio Department Services Agency to utilize $150,000 of the Business Revolving Loan Fund.

The project was re-bid in November of 2014 and again Mechanical Construction was the lone bidder, but this time the bid was $521,000.

The city considered doing the project in-house and only subletting the highly technical and difficult work but that didn’t work because of the lack of confidence in the ability of city employees to do some of the work and to coordinate the various sub-contractors. It would have meant the city was acting as the general contractor.

In the end the city did award the contract to Mechanical Construction for $521,000. However, when the 2015 budget was being constructed it was anticipated that the project would be awarded and the monies encumbered in 2014 so they were not placed in the 2015 budget meaning the appropriations need to be set by ordinance.

Allen estimated the funding for the project to break down as $75,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission; $150,000 from Water Capital Improvement; $147,250 from the Ohio Public Works Commission and $150,000 from the Business Revolving Loan Fund, totaling $522,250.

The project was developed as a result from concerns that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency had regarding the current fixture at the city’s water plant.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

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