City Hall roof contract questioned

A Canton contractor will be awarded the Marietta City Hall roofing job, even though the lowest bid on the project was submitted by a local company. Some council members questioned the bid award that was announced during a lands, buildings and parks committee meeting Tuesday.

Akron-Canton area company Buxton Contractors submitted a bid of $216,481 on the project, while Promanco of Marietta turned in a bid of $215,637.

One reason Buxton won the bid was because the company is certified to install the Fiber Tite roofing system that was specified in the bid package assembled by the city engineering department. The same material was specified and installed on the city’s new municipal court roof because of its superior performance and durability over other roofing products.

But apparently no local companies are certified to handle the Fiber Tite roofing.

“That specification precludes local workers from getting this job,” said committee chairman Harley Noland, D-at large.

He also noted there is only an $844 difference between the Promanco and Buxton bids on the project, and Promanco’s bid was lowest.

City code requires contracts be awarded to “the best and lowest bidder” for projects, meaning the jobs won’t necessarily go to the company that will do the work for the least amount of money as other criteria like experience and proven past performance also have to be factored into the selection process.

“Promanco also did not submit financial information as requested in the bid documents,” said city engineer Joe Tucker.

Promanco vice president and general manager Rick Coley, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said as a private company the firm did not want to make its financial information available to the general public.

“And the city has the right to waive that bidding requirement,” he added.

Coley also said as a local company Promanco would have everything to lose if it did a bad job on the roofing project, adding that the city could ask for any additional information needed from the company.

But Tucker said the decision to award the bid to Buxton was not made lightly.

“The engineering department has a very complex process we go through when evaluating these bids,” he said, noting the department doesn’t have time to go on a search to obtain information that’s already been requested in the bid documents.

Later during Tuesday’s meeting, city law director Paul Bertram, who reviews documents and specifications for the bidding process, said he had concerns that none of the work experience submitted in Promanco’s bid documents had been performed for a government body.

Noland said Promanco had done roofing work on the city fire department, and councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, added that the company had also installed roofing on the O’Neill Center.

But Eric Lambert, project manager with the city engineering department, said Promanco did not list any of that experience in its upfront bidding documentation.

Bertram added that Buxton had extensive experience on municipal and other government projects, and noted the city hall roof would be a complex project for the contractor.

In the end, Noland said the project had already been awarded to Buxton, so the company would be doing the job, although he still expressed disappointment that a local company was not chosen for the project.

In other business Tuesday, Tucker said an additional $25,347 would be needed to cover more change orders on the second phase of the Armory Square project.

He said the change orders are for needed masonry repairs that could not be detected prior to the start of the project’s second phase as well as extra inspection services required from the project architect.

The change order total also includes payment for completion of required documentation by ATC, the company that provided lead paint abatement for the project.

Tucker said he does not anticipate any more change orders from the second phase of the project, and noted that to date change orders have elevated the original construction cost from $651,250 to $707,178.

Also on Tuesday, Tucker said E. Lee Construction, general contractor for the second phase of the armory renovation, has to complete that project by the end of this month.

City development director Andy Coleman added that if the contractor is not done by May 31, the city could have to repay a $321,800 federal transportation grant that has been used for the project.

Bertram also noted if the contractor is not finished by that date the city could file suit to recover monies lost under a liquidated damages clause that’s included in the E. Lee Construction contract.