Protest postpones award of bid for Glenwood Springs wastewater plant
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – An Aurora-based manufacturing company of water and wastewater equipment is questioning the validity of the bid process regarding the equipment to be used in the Glenwood Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Kristy Schloss, president of Schloss Engineered Equipment Inc., told Glenwood City Councilors Thursday that she and her attorney believe that a sole-source provision included in the bid document specifying the equipment to be installed in the facility excludes a competitive bid process. And that by doing so may violate city and state procurement rules. A sole-source contract implies that there is only one person or company that can provide a specific service or need to fulfill a contract.
“We believe this violates city and state procurement rules and that the result is that the taxpayers, the city of Glenwood Springs, and the state of Colorado could be grossly overcharged for the equipment,” Schloss said.
The equipment for the project that will be used to actually treat the wastewater, was sole soured to Vulcan Industries Inc., according to bid documents. However, according to City Engineer Mike McDill, substitutions could be made if equipment specifications matched the city’s request. Those decisions would be made at the contractor’s discretion, McDill said.
“If a contractor wants to use another equipment manufacturer, that [meets] the specifications the city requests, the city would be willing to do that,” McDill said.
And, McDill said, the bid process does not exclude competitive bidding.
“It does not,” McDill said, because the bid document specifies Vulcan or an “approved equivalent” that fits the project’s design and process.
McDill said that in projects such as this, where a facility is built around specific equipment, it’s common to include a sole-source provision for that specific portion of the contract.
“You have to design the spaces around the specific dimensions of equipment,” McDill said. “And the process rate of the equipment has to closely match the rate of other equipment. They have to work together.”
But Schloss’ argument is that there is more than one company that can provide the equipment for the plant. Due to the bid structure by not allowing a competitive bid process for the equipment, Schloss said, the majority of bidding contractors refused to review her company’s bid, or list Schloss Engineered Equipment as a valued engineer substitution.
“This isn’t financially or ethically right,” she said. “Nor is it good faith.”
According to Chad Paulson of Schmueser Gordon Meyer, engineering consultant on the project, the New Castle wastewater treatment plant included a similar provision in that contract document as well.
“There was equipment that was sole-sourced on that project,” Paulson said.
And he said that SGM feels that the bid process for the Glenwood project are legitimate.
“We feel that [Schloss] was given the opportunity to bid,” Paulson said, adding that Schloss Engineered Equipment was listed on one of the contractor’s lists as a qualified substitute.
Schloss confirmed that her company was listed as a substitute on one of the five contractor’s lists for specific equipment.
When Glenwood Mayor Bruce Christensen asked what specifically Schloss was asking of council, she responded, “I would very much appreciate the opportunity to communicate with city management and your consulting engineer, to try and figure out a resolution here. Or, to have an opportunity to work with them to effect the cost savings for the city and the state, and the Colorado taxpayers as well.”
Council decided to postpone awarding the contract until March 18 to allow city staff to review the allegations before moving forward.
Hecksel said that the financing agreement from the Colorado Water Resource and Power Development Authority is expected to close in May and the bids are good until after the first week in April, which gives council time to postpone the award.
“From staff’s review, as well as our consulting engineer’s review, we believe that we had a valid and fair bid process,” responded City Manager Jeff Hecksel.
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