With Commissioner Joanna Bryan saying she did not want a repeat of the issues pertaining to Americus Ditch, the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday tabled the awarding of a bid for improvements around the Lands Landing boat ramp.
The BOCC was presented by staff with the final bid tabulations and recommendation from county engineer Preble Rish on a grant-funded project to improve the boat ramp and surrounding area.
The low bidder, a company out of Georgia, had only reinstated its licenses in the past six months, Bryan noted, compared to other bidders that were decades in business and she wondered whether requirements on worker’s compensation insurance and performance bonds were met.
She also questioned whether the company carried required certification to work on marine projects such as boat ramps.
“I’m concerned they do not meet all requirements,” Bryan said. “We have already been burned on other projects.”
Commissioner Warren Yeager said he had never heard of the company though he was familiar with several of the bidding contractors which were located in Bay County and Panama City.
County attorney Jeremy Novak noted to commissioners that an application for a local bidders’ preference – one the companies was Cathey Construction – had not been asserted for the project.
He also noted that qualifications for such grant-funded projects are “specific to the project.”
County grant administrator Towan Kopinsky said some requirements would not need to be met until a contract was sign.
“At some point we’ll sign a contract with them and we can tie it all down then,” said county administrator Don Butler.
Bryan was not satisfied.
“We need to examine our bid policy and we are ensuring that we have all the qualifications we need,” Bryan said. “We need to be certain we are looking at the qualifications at the time of awarding.”
Yeager, reiterating his unfamiliarity with the contractor, agreed that more information was needed before the county entered into any contract.
“They may very well be a great contractor,” Yeager said, “but we need to be sure.”
Commissioner Carmen McLemore said he would be comfortable awarding the contract to the next lowest bidder, a company out of Panama City, but the board decided to table the bids pending additional information.