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Council refuses Engan bill for additional bid documents

WILLMAR -- Willmar Mayor Frank Yanish broke a 4-4 tie and the City Council defeated a resolution this week to increase the contract with City Council of Willmar for preparing additional bidding documents for the City Auditorium improvement project.

WILLMAR - Willmar Mayor Frank Yanish broke a 4-4 tie and the City Council defeated a resolution this week to increase the contract with City Council of Willmar for preparing additional bidding documents for the City Auditorium improvement project.
The payment was recommended by city staff as an amendment that would have added $798.67 to the $44,000 contract that the council approved with Engan for the auditorium project.
The contract called for Engan to perform four tasks: design development, construction documents, bidding and negotiating and construction administration. At issue was whether the contract allowed the additional cost under bidding and negotiating.
The Finance Committee Dec. 8 voted 2-2 to deny the request and sent the matter to the council without recommendation, said committee Chairman Denis  Anderson.
Anderson asked the council what it wanted to do. After considerable discussion and explanation, the council deadlocked on a motion to approve the request. Those voting in favor were Anderson, Audrey Nelsen, Rick Fagerlie and Bruce DeBlieck. Voting against were Ron Christianson, Steve Ahmann, Tim Johnson and Jim Dokken.
City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday told Mayor Frank Yanish that he was allowed to break the tie in this case.
Yanish said he didn’t know a whole lot about it and he asked Halliday to explain.
Halliday deferred to City Attorney Robert Scott, who said the City Charter gives the mayor the authority to cast a tie-breaking vote: either yes or no.
“This is one of those votes. You have the right to vote. I don’t believe it’s an obligation to vote. If you don’t vote, the resolution fails for lack of a majority of the votes cast,’’ Scott said.
Yanish said he would vote no, and Halliday declared the amendment failed.
During discussion, Christianson requested clarification that Engan had met the $44,000 contract limit to perform the four tasks.
“When they meet our contract threshold, then they have to submit this. Is that what you’re saying?’’ he asked.
Halliday said the thresholds have been met.
“So the $44,000 is done. It’s been paid out up to that amount and they had to invoice you for this because it was additional. OK,’’ he said.
Nelsen asked staff to explain the issue.
City Administrator Charlene Stevens said the expenditures in question were the cost of printing and reproducing bid documents to be used by contractors. She said it’s more typical that these are reimbursed because (consultants) don’t have an idea of how many plan sets and documents will be distributed until the bidders pick them up.
“I think there might be some question as to how the language was written in their original proposal. It could be argued either way that they had a cost for bidding documents in there of about $2,500. You could I guess make an argument that these expenses maybe should have been part of that or that they should have been spelled out more clearly. But it is a legitimate expense that Engan has incurred and the staff recommendation is to pay that expense,’’ Stevens said.
Johnson said he opposed the request at the Finance meeting and still opposed it.
“This was a competitive bidding process. All the other bidders that bid on this work included these specific items in their bid. It would be, I think, violate the spirit and intent of the bidding process that we’re bound by law to follow on contracts of this nature. I just don’t think it’s appropriate to allow bidders that don’t bid all the items and then come in the back door and want to amend their bidding,’’ Johnson said. “I just don’t think its appropriate.’’
Anderson said the issue could maybe be argued both ways. But he recommended paying the request.
“We’ve done business for years and years and years with Engan Associates. They do a tremendous amount of work for our community and I think this is an issue of fairness. I think if they forgot to put it in or if they didn’t and if it’s payable, it’s pretty much standard practice to pay this and I think that they should be paid for the work that they performed,’’ he said.

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