County errs with asbestos-removal bidsFull bid process needed; agreement must be cancelled.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
The Davison County Commission incorrectly awarded an asbestos removal contract Tuesday, said Chairman John Claggett, and the county must now cancel that agreement and solicit sealed bids for the job.
Claggett said the determination was made after the commission approved a bid of $24,837 from Gary Snow & Associates, of Pierre, for asbestos removal at the former Central Electric building. The asbestos abatement job is part of renovations to the 1420 N. Main St. property, which the county purchased from Central Electric in November for $575,000. The county is converting the building to space for commission meetings and county health nurse offices.
Puetz Corp., of Mitchell, will manage the building’s $261,700 renovation contract, which does not include asbestos removal.
As a courtesy, Puetz representatives contacted three abatement contractors who submitted quotes for the asbestos removal job. The commissioners approved the lowest quote Tuesday during a meeting at the courthouse.
The asbestos removal job, however, was never publicly advertised as state law requires.
“We found we have to go through a full bid process,” said Claggett, who expressed frustration at continued delays for the project.
Claggett said the county is bound by state bidding regulations. The county would be exempt from such regulations if the project was an emergency, Claggett said, but the county faces no such emergency need for the building.
“The sad part is that we already published bids in the paper,” he said. That could result in a higher cost as the project’s timeline is moved ahead, since potential bidders will now have seen the previous bids.
The commissioners knew the building contained asbestos when it was purchased, but they initially believed little would be disturbed during renovations. That turned out not to be the case.
Puetz Corp. cannot proceed with renovation plans until asbestos in the “popcorn” textured ceilings and floor tiles is removed.
Auditor Susan Kiepke said it was she who felt uncomfortable with the commissioners’ action and later checked with Deene Dayton, director of local government assistance for the Department of Legislative Audit. She determined the commissioners incorrectly awarded the contract.
In the past, the commissioners put items out to bid that were more than $25,000.
State bidding regulations have two bidding thresholds, said Dayton on Wednesday in a telephone interview — a $25,000 bid threshold for supplies and equipment, and a $50,000 threshold that applies to public improvements.
It was Dayton’s judgment that asbestos removal is part of a larger project exceeding that amount, which means any purchase or contract will have to be put out to public bid.
The $50,000 bidding threshold applies to the total cost of a project, explained Dayton, and not merely to individual components of that project. “It does not matter that it may take the skills of a different vendor; it is part of the same project that is under way to get the building ready,” Dayton wrote in an email explanation to the commissioners.
Kiepke said the original bidders are still eligible to bid on the project. The county will have to develop bidding specifications and publish a request for bids, she said.