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Council authorizes low bid exemption to finish Water Reclamation Facility
Council authorizes low bid exemption to finish Water Reclamation Facility (WRF)
The Bend City Council on Wednesday authorized an exemption to the low-bid process, which will allow a direct appointment of a contractor, MA Mortenson Company (Mortenson), to finish uncompleted work associated with the Water Reclamation Facility (WRF). The WRF is the City’s sewage treatment facility.
“Direct appointment is in the ratepayers’ best interest in this case because it will be less expensive than the traditional procurement approach. It will allow remaining work to get started and completed sooner,” said Assistant Engineering and Infrastructure Planning Director Jeff England.
“The WRF is one of the most important facilities in the City and we are at a point where we need to complete the remaining construction to efficiently and effectively operate and maintain it,” said Utility Director Paul Rheault.
The Water Reclamation Facility Secondary Expansion Project construction contract was originally approved in 2013. The project was awarded to the lowest bidder, Apollo, Inc. The project was beset with delays and defective and deficient work. The work was not ultimately completed and is currently in litigation.
“The WRF has been operational during this time, and the facility has met our needs over the past couple of years,” said England. “But we have to be responsive to growth, and knowing that with the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) expansion there are properties ready to come into the UGB to be served by City sewer, it’s time to get the expansion done. The WRF is approaching its treatment limits. The remainder of the work needs to be completed in order to remain in compliance with DEQ permitting requirements and to continue to meet the needs of a rapidly growing community.”
The City hired Mortenson in September of 2015 to take over construction management duties of the project. Since that time, Mortenson has acquired considerable knowledge of the project, the facility, and City staff who operate and maintain it. To use a competitive process to hire someone to finish the project would require substantial time and expense to prepare new engineered construction documents. Only Mortenson is in a position to complete the work without substantial new construction documents.
City staff will negotiate a scope of work and guaranteed maximum price with Mortenson to complete construction. The City will impose contract provisions to ensure competitive pricing for sub-contracts.
“The exemption is not a contract approval. It only allows the City to negotiate directly with Mortenson. If we are unable to negotiate a reasonable price, the City has the ability to pursue other alternatives. Council will have to approve any forthcoming construction contract,” said England.
This is a one-time exemption to the competitive bidding process and is only applicable to completion of unfinished work at the WRF.
“It’s in the ratepayers and taxpayers best interest to do it this way, because ultimately this will be less expensive and faster,” said Rheault.