Council Could Expand Powers for Rejecting Low Bidders

Tuesday, August 26 2014

Unalaska’s city council will consider expanding their power to reject low bidders for city projects at their meeting tonight.

Right now, the council has to explain their reasoning if they award a contract to someone other than the lowest bidder. An ordinance up for discussion tonight would give them more reasons to choose from.

They include a company’s conduct during meetings, or whether a contractor’s asked for ”grossly inflated” amounts of extra payment in the past.

Council could also say no to a low bidder because they’re involved in disputes with the city over other projects.

City manager Chris Hladick says those kind of outstanding issues can make it ”awkward’ to work with contractors on new projects.

He says he can’t remember a time when the council has not given a contract to the lowest bidder -- but he says they’d like to have the option.

"There’s a lot of pressure to give the lowest bidder the job, of course," Hladick says. "So this gives the council some flexibility and some pretty clear-cut reasons as to why, if they don’t go with the lowest bidder, why they’re doing what they’re doing."

That’s not what’ll happen with one new contract tonight. Council’s set to give Northern Alaska Contractors a $3.6 million dollar contract to expand the landfill. Theirs was the lowest bid of five submitted last month.

Northern Alaska was set to do the same job for $3.9 million dollars earlier this year. But the city canceled that agreement, after the contractor asked for a hefty change order to deal with contaminated rocks at the worksite.

For the new contract, the second-lowest bidder was Advanced Blasting, for $4.3 million dollars. But the city’s already dealing with claims that Advanced Blasting’s past work caused problems at the wastewater treatment plant site, as well as the landfill.

So Hladick says they’re expecting to give the new landfill contract to Northern Alaska once again.

Also tonight, council will set their priorities for getting state and federal funding in the next fiscal year. Those include dredging in Unalaska Bay, improvements to Captains Bay Road and a pilot project to try out liquid natural gas as a fuel source for the city.

Council will also talk about their policy for submitting reports after they travel on city business. Mayor Shirley Marquardt says councilors haven’t all been doing trip reports on time, or putting enough detail into them. The reports are supposed to be posted online within two weeks after the mayor or councilors get back from a trip.

Tonight’s meeting is at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

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