Minutes from Selectmen’s August 1, 2016, Meeting

The draft minutes for the Selectmen’s August 1 meeting have been posted to the Tuftonboro town web site by Administrative Secretary Karen Koch. Here is the portion of the minutes that deals with the Lang’s Pong Road construction contract:

The Selectmen revisited the Lang Pond Road award of bid and invited Jack Parsons to participate in the conversation. Selectman Marcussen shared his opinion that his vendor choice is still the same. He reaffirmed that Integrity Earthworks is inexperienced in this area.

Selectman Wood shared his formerly mentioned research regarding RSA 447:16. His opinion is to let Integrity Earthworks add a bond if it is legal and acceptable or to reject all bids and redo the process.

Chairman Sundquist’s opinion stayed the same. She doesn’t feel that the Selectmen’s reasons are strong enough to not move forward with Integrity Earthworks if they present a performance bond.

Jack Parsons confirmed that no official prequalification process was done. Although, none of the applicants were on the State approved contractor list. His recommendation is based on experience. He researched Integrity Earthworks past projects but did not find any solid evidence of past experience applicable to this project.

There was some discussion about the bond requirements, bond amounts, and the low bidder’s confirmation that they would post a bond if required. Jack Parsons expressed concern that he doesn’t want to have to use the bond. Selectman Marcussen explained further that a bond protects the Town in the event of non-performance but it doesn’t get the job done in a timely manner. Selectman Wood added to this explanation stating that a bond is an insurance policy.

Chairman Sundquist doesn’t feel that the chance of non- performance is reason enough to not accept the lowest bidder. Selectman Marcussen feels the opposite as the lowest bidder doesn’t have any demonstrative experience in this area. Selectman Wood shared that he also doesn’t believe that the reason to reject Integrity Earthworks is enough. He is most comfortable rejecting all bids, and redoing the process. It was then discussed amongst the group that the only issue with redoing the process is that all bidders know the other offers at this point.

Selectman Wood made a motion to stand with the original motion of the original bid, seconded by Selectman Marcussen. Vote passed 3-0. Chairman Sundquist voted yes with hesitation. It was asked that Karen Koch relay this decision to Integrity Earthworks.

And during public comment:

During public input, Betsy Frago asked about Norway Plains’ responsibility in regards to the review of the Lang Pond Road bids as well as questioned if Norway Plains reviewed the Invitation to Bid packet. Chairman Sundquist confirmed that Norway Plains did make mention that a performance bond was not included on Integrity Earthworks’ bid but also didn’t know if it was required or not. The Selectmen didn’t know if Norway Plains was provided the Invitation to Bid packet for review. Chairman Sundquist shared that none of the people involved in creating the Invitation to Bid packet were aware that a bond was required until after the submissions were received. Ms. Frago also questioned why Selectman Marcussen was not available to attend the meeting Friday with Integrity Earthworks. Chairman Sundquist explained that Selectman Marcussen was originally available to attend but circumstances arose that prevented him from staying. Although Integrity Earthworks has not indicated that they would sue the Town, she asked if NHMA was asked if the Town can be sued for not taking the lowest bid. Chairman Sundquist responded that they did not inquire about this and this is a concern of hers as well. Ms. Frago also asked about the cost difference between the lowest bid and the second lowest bid. The Selectmen explained that it is approximately a $30,000 difference.

 

Acknowledging Error, Selectmen Vote to Reconsider Lang’s Pond Road Contract

“We erred,” said selectman Carolyn Sundquist in a meeting today with Integrity Earthworks. “We don’t know all the RSAs [state laws].”

Steve Pacsay, president of Integrity Earthworks of Wolfeboro, had requested today’s meeting after the selectmen rewarded the Lang’s Pong Road contract to LA Drew in an emergency meeting on Tuesday morning. The selectmen rejected Integrity Earthworks’ bid because it did not include a security bond. However, the bid instructions stated a bond was not required.

Sundquist stated today that the selectmen didn’t know that New Hampshire state law required bonds on projects that are more than $35,000, until they saw an article about it in a municipal magazine last week.

Integrity Earthworks asked the selectmen to reject all the bids and solicit new bids. “I don’t want to sound like a sore loser,” said Steve Pacsay. “This not the first contract that we won’t get or will get.” His concern was that the bid process had not been fair. Integrity Earthworks, he said, would have included a bond if the bid instructions had required one.

Selectman Lloyd Wood made a motion to reconsider the decision on the contract. Selectman Sundquist seconded the motion, and then Sundquist and Wood both voted yea. Selectman Bill Marcussen was not present to vote. The selectmen will therefore reconsider the decision at their 9AM meeting this coming Monday.

Marcussen left before Integrity Earthworks came to meet with the selectmen. The full board of selectmen were present for a 10:30 meeting this morning with Meredith Savings Bank, which is taking over the Melvin Village branch location from Peoples’ United bank. The selectmen are looking to move town accounts from Peoples’ to Meredith Savings. When the meeting with Meredith Savings finished at about 11:20, Marcussen left.

Marcussen had been the most vocal opponent of awarding the contract to Integrity Earthworks. It’s unclear why he did not stay for the scheduled 11:30 meeting with Integrity Earthworks.

Selectmen Award Lang’s Pond Road Contract to LA Drew

After a bungled bid process, the selectmen awarded the Lang’s Pond Road contract to LA Drew this morning in an emergency meeting. At their meeting yesterday the selectmen awarded the contract to LA Drew even though Integrity Earthworks of Wolfeboro was the lowest bid. The selectmen stated the reason for awarding the contract to LA Drew’s higher bid was that Integrity Earthworks had not filled out the bid package correctly by not including a bond. However, an Integrity Earthworks representative who was present at the meeting pointed out that the bid instructions had clearly stated that the bond was not required, prompting the selectmen to reconsider their initial awarding of the contract, since the decision had been made based on incorrect information.

The selectmen hired an outside firm, Norway Plains, to review the bids to ensure the process was fair. At last night’s meeting the Integrity Earthworks representative stated he had called Jack Parsons, representing the town, as well as Norway Plains, to make sure that his company’s bid was complete and he was told that it was. One of the reasons the selectmen had expressed for going into recess last night was that they wanted to talk to Jack Parsons, but Parsons was not present at this morning’s reconvened meeting.

At this morning’s emergency meeting chairman of the selectmen Carolyn Sundquist said that she would be willing to award the contract to Integrity Earthworks if they put up a bond. Selectman Bill Marcussen stated his concern that Integrity Earthworks is primarily a high-end residential contractor and lacks the experience of constructing roads. He was concerned that Integrity Earthworks would not be able to complete the project before winter. Selectman Lloyd Wood stated his belief that it would be illegal under state law for the town to award the contract to Integrity Earthworks so long as they issued a bond because it would amount to changing the bid requirements at the last minute in order to favor one of the bidders. Wood stated that while he didn’t want to use the word “misleading,” the bid instructions had not been clear. Sundquist stated that instructions were “unfortunate.”

The Integrity Earthworks representative (the same one from last night) was at this morning’s meeting and offered that while 75% of his company’s portfolio is indeed high-end residential, they have a number of current and pending contracts for large-scale non-residential work including the Rochester City Hall Annex and the Army National Guard. These contracts, he pointed out, exceed the dollar value of the Lang’s Pong Road contract.

Selectman Marcussen made a motion to award the contract to LA Drew. It was seconded by Lloyd Wood. Chairman Sundquist called a vote. Marcussen and Wood voted yea. Sundquist voted nay.

After the vote, the Integrity Earthworks representative thanked the selectmen for the process and shook hands with all three of them. There was no representative from LA Drew at either last night or this morning’s meeting.

LA Drew’s winning bid was $140,772 and Integrity Earthworks’ lower bid was $112,906. The Integrity Earthworks bid would have been higher if it included a bond, but would still have offered a considerable savings to the taxpayer.