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County rejects elevator bids

WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Board has rejected all bids for work to update the 11 elevators in county buildings.

Improvements will still be made to bring the elevators up to state code, but the work will be contracted out in smaller portions.

County Administrator Larry Kleindl said he had hoped to see favorable bid amounts by bundling all the projects into one bid. "That doesn't appear to have happened."

At Tuesday's board meeting, Kleindl recommended rejecting all the bids received last month. The lowest bid was $635,480 from Thyssenkrupp Elevator of Minneapolis, which was $110,000 more than the original estimate for the work.

State law allows counties to handle contracts less than $25,000 without using the formal competitive bidding process. Kleindl said the county could use that law to get quotes and negotiate prices on seven of the smaller projects.

Two other projects would fall in the range of $25,000 to $100,000, where the county is required to get two quotes but does not have to formally advertise for bids, he said.

The two remaining elevators, in the courthouse and the old jail building, are expected to cost more than $100,000 each, and the county will still advertise for bids on those. Those elevators need extensive improvements and modernization.

The county has 11 elevators in nine buildings. In addition to the courthouse and old jail, the elevators are in the public library, the Health and Human Services Building, the County Office Building, Prairie Lakes Detention Center and county-owned buildings on the MinnWest Technology Campus. The MinnWest buildings are leased by the state.

"There's no guarantee it's going to come in a lot cheaper," Kleindl said, but the county will have more flexibility.

In some of the smaller projects, the work could be done by local electricians or county staff, he said.

The state requires the work be done by Dec. 31, and the county has asked for an extension of the deadline. Kleindl said in June he believed the extension would be granted if work was under way and the county had contracts to finish it. He said he expects to be able to have all the work done before the end of 2012.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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