Low bid for county project draws some scrutiny from union

$100k below next highest bid submitted

CLINTON — The DeWitt County board voted February 21 to accept the low bid of $60,970 from Adkisson Construction for replacement of the roof over dock 2 at Clinton Lake marina.  A representative of the carpenters’ union, however, didn’t think it was such a good idea.

Rick Dial, with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, addressed county board members about the disparity between the low bid and two other bids submitted for the work, one over $150,000 and another over $200,000.

Dial said the objective of the prevailing wage act was to help ensure equity among contractors in the bidding process.

“So all the contractors bidding on the project are bidding apples to apples on the same project,” Dial said.  “When there’s a 20 percent or more disparity between bids, it kind of throws up a red flag."

He told the board there was the likelihood a contractor submitting a significantly different bid cost was not bidding according to specifications of the project.

Dial said the bids on the county’s project came in at a 70 percent disparity.

“I’m not saying anybody’s doing anything wrong,” he said.  “It should throw up a red flag to any taxpayer in DeWitt County or for any job.”

He said, often, using lower quality materials or not following recognized safety procedures can account for significantly lower bids.

“Or, it could be cheaper, substandard labor,” Dial said.  

Dial said some contractors might not pay the wages or benefits required under the prevailing wage act.

During board discussion, chairman David Newberg said Homer Chastain & Associates engineers confirmed the low bidder, Adkisson, met the project requirements in its bid documents.  

This included details of the prevailing wage requirements.

“As invoices for this project come in, they go to Chastain, and Chastain looks at it,” Newberg said.  

The board’s administrative assistant Dee Rentmeister also said Chastain representatives check to verify the invoices are meeting the project requirements.

Board member Lance Reece, who worked in the construction industry for 40 years, warned that extremely low bids could indicate a problem with a contractor’s bid, sometimes requiring contractors to return to correct deficiencies in their original work.

The measure passed 9-1, with Reece voting “no.”

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