The Hendry County commissioners voted unanimously last Tuesday, May 22, to accept a low bid from National Water Main Cleaning Co. for rehabilitation services on sanitary sewer lines within the Port LaBelle Utility Service area.
The county board had postponed a decision at its previous meeting in May on selecting a bidder among the three who submitted proposals for the work because National’s bid, $62,520, was less than half of what the highest bidder, Layne Inliner LLC, had said it would charge for the job ($127,505). The other bidder, TV Diversified LLC, came in at $113,362, still $50,000 over the low bid.
Commissioner Darrell Harris, who had raised questions at the May 8 meeting, inquired whether staff had contacted National to confirm its price.
County Public Works Director R. Shane Parker responded: “I contacted the low bidder myself, spoke to the gentleman that filled it out, the vice-president, and he said they can do it for that price. (Engineer) Tetra Tech had already contacted their references, but I contacted the Department of Transportation District 3, and they’re currently doing work for DOT with no issues.”
National’s bid was even $47,480 below the engineer’s estimate for the work.
Board Chairman Mitchell Wills said that, “in trying to explain that, (it’s) realistic bidding and inflamed bidding. If they’ll do it for that, everybody else could, too. So it’s just a little ridiculous.”
Mr. Parker confirmed that National representatives had visited the site, “and I asked them, can you do it for that price? He said they visited the site, and they can do it.”
The board’s consent agenda was also OK’d unanimously, and it contained several actions:
• Approval of a public utility easement form that private landowners will be required to sign to execute easements for installation of a force main from Airglades Airport to the Clewiston wastewater treatment plant. The staff report noted that these will be permanent easements, and “will be a public utility easement to Hendry County that accommodates telecommunications conduit, wastewater collection system, and/or a water distribution system.”
• Clearance for staff to proceed with the purchase of lands along the Roy Brown Canal, which provides conveyance of stormwater in the North LaBelle Municipal Services Benefit Unit, to provide access for long-term maintenance of the canal. The North LaBelle MSBU will pay for all title work and surveying necessary, but costs are unknown until purchase contracts are brought before the board for approval.
• Approval of a Local Agency Program Agreement for safety improvements on curves along County Road 835, in the amount of $1.52 million to be financed in full by the Florida DOT. This also authorizes staff to advertise a request for qualifications for design and construction engineering and inspection services.
• Ratification of a union contract with Hendry County employees covered by the International Association of Fire Fighters; the articles already have been approved by IAFF Local 1826. The contract provides for a raise for starting full-time emergency medical technicians from $9.75 to $10.04 per hour and for paramedics from $12.50 to $12.88 an hour. It also gives current full-time EMTs a 23-cent-an-hour raise and paramedics 40 cents more, retroactive to Jan. 1.
• Acceptance of the annual reimbursement grant from the Florida Emergency Preparedness Assistance Trust Fund for the county’s Emergency Management Department in the amount of $105,806, which requires a county match of $85,455 and finances the department through the 2018-19 fiscal year ending June 30, 2019.
• Approval of Sheriff Steve Whidden’s request for release of $20,000 in contingency funds for upgrades to the kitchen at the county jail to bring it into compliance with health codes.