Commissioner Parr: Several factors entered into demolition confusion

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Holding to a budget can be a very hard task indeed. County government is no exception to this statement.

While things are running smoothly with the demolition of the old grocery store behind the courthouse and the upcoming construction of a new jail, Clay County Commissioners President David Parr wants the county to know that it has not been taken for $20,000.

"We're trying really, really hard to stick with a budget on this," Parr said, referring to the process behind the construction of the new jail. "If we take bids on something and one bid is $9,000 lower than what we budgeted, hey, that's $9,000... we just don't have a lot of wiggle room (with construction of the new jail).

"We budgeted $100,000 for demolition (of the grocery store and boiler building behind the courthouse), and we were comfortable with that. We eventually got prices down to that, too."

Parr said that recent allegations of price spiking by bidders on the demolition project were all because of a misunderstanding.

"When we open up a bid, we usually ask for four copies, that way the commissioners and the auditor can all have one," Parr said. "The architectural firm, Shenkel Schultz, didn't ask for four copies. That's part of the reason we threw all the bids out."

He continued, saying that the commissioners hoped for more bids the second time around. Unfortunately, extra bids didn't come, though the ones submitted did drop.

In paperwork provided to The Times, it can be seen that both bidders for the project (Jeffrey A. Bell Construction & Excavating, Inc. ad S & G Excavating, Inc.) actually dropped their prices the second time around. When including alternate work (optional, but still important, tasks) on the demolition project, S & G's bid dropped by $10,930, and Bell's by $15,915.

In the end, S & G's final bid came to $107,670, while Bell's came to $91,340, nearly $9,000 under the county's budget. Bell's base work price raised, but the alternate price dropped significantly, while S & G's base price dropped, leaving the alternate bid unchanged.

"On its face, it does look like Bell hiked the price up on it," Parr said. "But if you turn the page on the bid, you see that he actually dropped it by a bit."

Though neither bid has been officially selected by the commissioners, Parr said that he "really hopes" comments made by other parties in the past will not cause the bidders to pull their offers from the table.

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