VALPARAISO | Despite getting more than 40 bids for the variety of work needed to build the new public works department campus, the city will seek more bids in four areas.
The city's Board of Public Works and Safety voted Thursday at a special meeting to seek new bids for steel, flooring, plumbing and the salt barn. Public Works Director Matt Evans told the board no bids were received for the flooring and those received for the other three were $766,592 above the estimates by Chester Inc.
"We are here to build a quality facility, but we want to do it in the most cost effective way we can," Mayor Jon Costas said. "These items are certainly ripe for rebidding, and we will do all we can to get bidders to sharpen their pencils."
Evans said bids were sought for more than 30 categories needed for the facility to be built at the city's sewage treatment plant property. In addition to housing offices for public works and the utilities department, the project includes a vehicle maintenance garage for both departments, garage space for all the public works vehicles and a salt storage building.
Chester's estimates were based on other recent projects, and the reason for the higher-than-expected bids wasn't known. The steel was estimated at $653,280, but the best bid was almost double that. The plumbing estimate was $184,612 while the bid was $44,388 higher. The fabric salt storage facility was estimated to be $41,000, but the only qualifying bid was $176,840 more - more than five times the estimate.
The first batch of bids was opened Oct. 30, and Evans had hoped to start construction before the end of the year. The new bids probably will be opened in early December and the contracts awarded before the end of the year, pushing the start of construction back to late January or early February. Evans said the project still must be completed in 2014.
Bonds for financing the project were sold Wednesday, and Evans said the rates were low enough for the city to finance a total of $6.77 million with the anticipated revenue for the project. Only $6.45 million will go toward the construction and design while the rest will pay for the cost of issuing the bonds. The bonds will be paid off without raising property taxes.
The board of works approved a request by Chester that bidders not be required to be present for the opening in order to encourage more out of town bidders.