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County rejects proposal due to previous issues with contractor

SHERIDAN — Sheridan County Commissioners decided at their meeting Tuesday that cheaper is not always better.

When considering bid awards for a rehabilitation project on the terminal parking lot at Sheridan County Airport, commissioners awarded the bid to the second lowest bidder due to problems they said they had with similar work performed by the lowest bidder.
All three bids for the project came in below the engineer’s estimate of $77,150. The lowest bidder, AZ Asphalt of Sheridan, bid $48,950 for the project.

The next lowest bidder, L&S Contractors of Sheridan, bid $14,000 higher at $64,466.

Airport Manager John Stopka and Vista West Engineering Project Manager Randy Bomar recommended rejection of the lowest bid as allowed in the Instructions to Bidders section of the Project Manual, which states, “The owner reserves the right to reject the bid of any bidder if the owner believes that it would not be in the best interest of the project to make an award to that bidder.”
Stopka sent a memo to the commissioners dated May 29 that documented problems with AZ Asphalt during a parking lot expansion project in 2009.

These included excavation and construction deficiencies that had to be corrected, working without proper insurance certificates, improper communication with subcontractors that resulted in mistakes and delays in project completion and submittal of required paperwork. The project was contracted to be complete Aug. 21, 2009, and was declared complete Sept. 8, 2009, according to the memo.
“There were lots of problems,” Commissioner Steve Maier said. “Based on that experience, which was not pleasant for all of us, our decision was to not go with the lowest bid. Just because it’s the cheapest doesn’t mean it’s the best in the long term. That’s in our prerogative. We still took a bid lower than the engineer’s estimate.”

Maier said it was not common to reject a low bid, but that it does happen occasionally.

Mike Collins, owner of AZ Asphalt, spoke at the meeting. He admitted there were problems with past work but said his business does good work. He said he’d never been in a position where the lowest bid didn’t get the award, and he wasn’t sure what to say other than he thought the county was wasting money by going with a higher bid.

“I don’t feel like I was treated very fair,” Collins said. “A lot of the problem was the engineering was wrong on it. They didn’t have the quantities right, which resulted in a disagreement and things went downhill from there. The reason we bid again was because the low bidder gets the work. I feel discriminated against.”

Collins said he didn’t get paid for one sidewalk he poured because it didn’t meet a compaction test. He said the problem with the sidewalk arose because he only had one day to get the concrete he needed otherwise he would have had to delay the project for three weeks.

In other business, the Sheridan County Commissioners:
• awarded a retail liquor license to Arvada Bar in Arvada.
• approved a conditional use permit was for the Dewey Private Cemetery on 250 acres northwest of Beatty Gulch Road. The site will be platted to note locations of grave sites.

• approved the Big Horn Y Minor Subdivision which consists of 6.54 acres near the intersection of U.S. Highway 87 and State Highway 332. The area is zoned Commercial 1 and is identified in the county’s future land use plan as a commercial center, according to a staff report by county Planner Mark Reid. Four commercial lots are proposed, two of which are occupied by the Big Horn Y convenience store and a retail store.

• approved a notice of intent to amend the rules and regulations governing zoning regarding riparian areas. The approval will start the process of notifying the public of the proposed changes and holding public hearings at planning and zoning and commission meetings.

• postponed three agenda items: the East Ridge Quarry, the McMeans Conservation Subdivision in Dayton and a resolution to vacate portions of public right of way in Parkman. Commissioner Bob Rolston said the postponements were done because they were requested or to allow more information to be gathered.

“We think to put these to a vote, we really need to have all the shells in the cylinder to make it happen,” Rolston said.
Mike Collins, owner of AZ Asphalt, spoke at the meeting. He admitted there were problems with past work but said his business does good work. He said he’d never been in a position where the lowest bid didn’t get the award, and he wasn’t sure what to say other than he thought the county was wasting money by going with a higher bid.

“I don’t feel like I was treated very fair,” Collins said. “A lot of the problem was the engineering was wrong on it. They didn’t have the quantities right, which resulted in a disagreement and things went downhill from there. The reason we bid again was because the low bidder gets the work. I feel discriminated against.”

Collins said he didn’t get paid for one sidewalk he poured because it didn’t meet a compaction test. He said the problem with the sidewalk arose because he only had one day to get the concrete he needed otherwise he would have had to delay the project for three weeks.

In other business, the Sheridan County Commissioners:
• awarded a retail liquor license to Arvada Bar in Arvada.
• approved a conditional use permit for the Dewey Private Cemetery on 250 acres northwest of Beatty Gulch Road. The site will be platted to note locations of grave sites.

• approved the Big Horn Y Minor Subdivision which consists of 6.54 acres near the intersection of U.S. Highway 87 and State Highway 332. The area is zoned Commercial 1 and is identified in the county’s future land use plan as a commercial center, according to a staff report by county Planner Mark Reid. Four commercial lots are proposed, two of which are occupied by the Big Horn Y convenience store and a retail store.

• approved a notice of intent to amend the rules and regulations governing zoning regarding riparian areas. The approval will start the process of notifying the public of the proposed changes and holding public hearings at planning and zoning and commission meetings.

• postponed three agenda items: the East Ridge Quarry, the McMeans Conservation Subdivision in Dayton and a resolution to vacate portions of public right of way in Parkman. Commissioner Bob Rolston said the postponements were done because they were requested or to allow more information to be gathered.
“We think to put these to a vote, we really need to have all the shells in the cylinder to make it happen,” Rolston said.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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