The Brookings City Council is deliberating a variety of ways to get its new 911 center built – including naming the city as the owner/ builder and subcontracting the work out to builders – as a way to save money.
That discussion came at the regular City Council meeting Monday, at which the city rejected bids saying they exceeded the amount of funds available for the project.
The city budgeted $380,000 to build an emergency operating center and received five bids, ranging from $466,177 to $570,363.
The city secured a $350,000 grant toward those costs in 2009.
But the lowest bid to make up the difference came in at $86,177 – 22.6 percent over budget.
If the city were to proceed under the owner/builder option, city building official LauraLee Snook would serve as the project manager and work would be done by general contractors hired through an informal bid process.
City Manager Gary Milliman said the procedure is “somewhat a new venture,” as the city hasn’t built its own building in decades.
Councilor Jake Pieper questioned if a municipality could even legally serve as an owner/builder.
He also wondered what might be wrong with the bidding process, that bids – for both the 911 center and landscaping maintenance in town – were coming in widely varying amounts.
“First the parks, and now this,” he said, refering to landscaping and janitorial bids the council had just rejected. “We’ve been asked to reject all the bids and go back to the drawing board. What’s happening that we can’t get bids in (the range) where we thought?”
City staff will now have to resolicit bids – all of which takes time.
“I was never a big-boy contractor, but you put a lot of time into putting together a bid,” said Mayor Ron Hedenskog. “The staff should be aware of that. This is costly.”
Councilor Dave Gordon noted that contractors know that bidding on projects is included in the cost of doing business.
The staff is now proceeding to make changes in the design of the emergency center to reduce the overall cost of the project before requesting a second round of bids.