St. C. considers bid criteria

ST. CLAIRSVILLE City council heard from Project Best about the possibility of instituting bid criteria to maximize tax dollars in construction projects during Tuesday’s meeting.

“When you have a bid, go out on open bid and lowest bid as your main criteria, you don’t really know who’s going to bid on the job. You don’t know where they’re going to be coming from. You don’t know where they’re going to be pulling their employee base from,” said Joe Miller, representing the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, a delegate to the Upper Ohio Valley Building and Construction Trades, and a volunteer for Project Best.

He presented sample criteria questionnaires that project bidders would answer. This would help the city determine who would make the best use of the available funds and utilize local labor. He said questions are thorough and include whether contractors have the proper insurance, bonding, whether their employees undergo OSHA training and are subject to drug and alcohol testing.

“If you use the bid criteria properly it will help you not only find the best qualified contractor for the project, but the best qualified lowest for the project,” he said, adding that instances of cost overrun, mistakes and lawsuits can be avoided. “With the bid criteria you can minimize the risk of those things, and the final cost of the project will be much closer than the original bid.”

Steve Hancock and Scott Mazzulli, fellow committee members with Project Best, spoke in favor of the initiative.

Mazzulli, also a business representative for the Sheet Metal Workers, treasurer for Project Best and Secretary Treasurer for the Upper Ohio Valley Building Trades, noted that the county commissioners have passed an ordinance to use the bid criteria, as have other cities and counties and the Port Authority. He added that the criteria is a valuable tool in measuring the honesty of a contractor by looking at their background records.

He added that this is not a union issue, since not all union contractors bid every job, and there is no one factor that would eliminate a contractor.

Hancock added that the oil and gas interests and the coming projects such prosperity will bring have also drawn disreputable contractors.

Martins Ferry Council Member Chris Cleary noted that his city had adopted the bid criteria with the new administration.

“The lowest bid is not always necessarily the best bid. We wanted to change criteria and make it more specific to protect us and the citizens as well,” he said, noting that it has worked well with the recent water filtration project. “It has worked out well so far.”

They ask that the council consider passing an ordinance to utilize the bid criteria. Project Best keeps an attorney on retainer to provide representation free of charge in the event of a dispute.

In other matters, Service Director Dennis Bigler reported speaking with Columbia Gas about main taining and refilling road areas they have dug up.

Also, Planning and Zoning Administrator Tom Murphy reported the planning committee met regarding preliminary plat approval for Ashburn Green Two. The Board of Development is proposing seven new lots of single family homes. The developer will install utilities and infrastructure and the city will inspect. Construction will be initiated after final plat approval.

Also, the city will receive $6,360 to address damage done by the storms of June and July. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided 75 percent, or $5,451, and the state provided $908.

Council and mayor noted the influx of transient workers in the city who are unable to find parking places. In instances where snow is two inches or higher, cars are not to be parked on the street, since their presence creates difficulty for snow plows to operate.

Regarding recreation issues, repairs have been made to the interior gym roof. Registration for indoor soccer is now being accepted. Youth basketball tournaments for boys and girls will be held at the end of February through the middle of March.

Council held the third reading of an ordinance providing for a mutual aid agreement with interstate and intrastate participating municipalities to receive and provide assistance during emergencies.

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