A decision to accept a bid for alterations and additions to the Bradley County Cannery located behind the Peerless Road Farmer’s Market was the only item on the agenda during the Bradley County Commission voting session Monday afternoon.
County Engineering Assistant Amanda Whitley brought the issue before the commission along with a bid tabulation worksheet listing the seven bidders for the construction project. They are general contractors: Carter Construction with a total bid of $79,125, Curtis Construction with a total bid of $59,254, Cherokee Construction with a total bid of $52,790, Ross Construction with a total bid of $58,471, RBJS Construction with a total bid of $54,300, Ray Kerr & Associates with the lowest total bid of $50,715 and Presswood Construction who failed to submit a sealed bid.
Commissioner Mark Hall made the motion to accept the bid recommended by County Agricultural Extension Services Director Kim Frady to go with Cherokee Construction’s bid. He said, “I’d like to see us act on this today. It’s like a hornet’s nest. The longer it drags on, the worse it gets.”
However, a substitute motion was made by Commissioner Jeff Yarber to accept the lowest bid from Ray Kerr & Associates who did not follow bid procedure by failing to use a bid form and omitting “bid enclosed” on the envelope.
County Engineering Assistant Amada Whitley commented, “By accepting the lowest bid, you could possibly be creating a legal issue with the lowest bidder that followed bid protocol."
Commissioner Jeff Morelock said, “I think we are opening up a can of worms if we don’t follow their recommendation.”
Commissioner Adam Lowe said, “I hate to see this project stifled, but I’d like us to go with Ray Kerr & Associates’ bid since it is the lowest.”
Commissioner Bill Winters commented, “This is a procedural issue and the procedures are critical here.”
Mr. Frady said, “This is a project that is very much needed. We have the funds available and no new money would be needed for the project. I’d hate to see the county lose that amount of money by not accepting the lowest bid, but I understand procedures. There was informality by not filling out the form. To me, the architect [Michael Brady, Inc.] should have had a printed copy of the form instead of handing it out to the general contractors at the bid meeting in the form of a CD. I sure don’t want to get into any legal arguments of any kind. It’s not a big project. Construction at the cannery is currently going on. By accepting a bid, it would allow construction for the new part begin I’d hate to see us carry this on and drag it out. I’d love to see you go ahead and make a decision today.”
Commissioner and Finance Committee Chairman Connie Wilson said, “I feel we are being put in a quandary here. I don’t want the county in a lawsuit over this.”
Commissioner Yarber stated, “I think the right thing to do is to accept the lowest bid.”
To pass, the substitute motion needed at least 10 commissioners voting in favor. It failed to pass with nine in favor, four against and one absent with Commissioners Bill Winters, Connie Wilson, Jeff Morelock and Cliff Eason voting against.
The original motion to accept Director Frady’s recommendation to accept Cherokee Construction’s bid of $52,790 with a substantial completion in 60 calendar days passed with 10 in favor, three against and one absent with Commissioners Mel Griffith, Robert Rominger and Cliff Eason voting against.
The consent agenda passed unanimously approving committee appointments to the Fire Board and notary applicants.
The Bradley County Commission will hold their next work session meeting next Monday at 7 p.m.