Islanders save hundreds to thousands each on sewer project rebid

Contractor protests bid process, Cape Coral’s cancellation of sewer project yields Island savings

Hold up, what I meant was... Brian Penner, CEO of Mitchell & Stark, explains to City Council why the sewer construction bids fell by millions of dollars and seeks to clarify his 'McDonald's versus a steakhouse' comment when comparing his two bids at Marco City Council's meeting Feb. 17.
Kelly Farrell/ Staff

Photo by KELLY FARRELL, Staff // Buy this photo

Hold up, what I meant was... Brian Penner, CEO of Mitchell & Stark, explains to City Council why the sewer construction bids fell by millions of dollars and seeks to clarify his "McDonald's versus a steakhouse" comment when comparing his two bids at Marco City Council's meeting Feb. 17. Kelly Farrell/ Staff

Hold up, what I meant was... Brian Penner, CEO of Mitchell & Stark, explains to City Council why the sewer construction bids fell by millions of dollars and seeks to clarify his 'McDonald's versus a steakhouse' comment when comparing his two bids at Marco City Council's meeting Feb. 17.
Kelly Farrell/ Staff

Photo by KELLY FARRELL, Staff // Buy this photo

Hold up, what I meant was... Brian Penner, CEO of Mitchell & Stark, explains to City Council why the sewer construction bids fell by millions of dollars and seeks to clarify his "McDonald's versus a steakhouse" comment when comparing his two bids at Marco City Council's meeting Feb. 17. Kelly Farrell/ Staff

— Cape Coral’s decision to cancel their sewer project, followed by Marco City Council’s decision to rebid their sewer projects, yielded millions of dollars in savings for the city and hundreds to thousands in savings for each resident in the Island sewer project districts.

City Council approved spending $12.1 million to continue their central sewer project by awarding two contracts to Mitchell and Stark, the low bidder. Council decided in December to rebid the projects when contractor and then-low bidder D.N. Higgins protested the bid process. D.N. Higgins, now the second lowest bidder, is also protesting this latest round of bidding.

City Manager Steve Thompson said the process of protesting will not have to stop or delay the construction which is planned for this year.

Calculations on the savings to residents in the two districts, Kendall and Mackle Park, can differ depending on which bid stages are compared. In Summer 2008 Council approved to sole source both projects to Mitchell and Stark instead of going out to bid. At that time, the estimate was about $17 million for both projects from Mitchell and Stark, said Councilman Frank Recker.

Since sole sourcing the project was deemed illegal by the state, the city put the projects out to bid.

Public Works Director Rony Joel said there are about 650 homes in each of the two districts. These are the two largest districts in the project so far, he added.

The average savings from this summer to Tuesday’s decision is about $3,800 per property owner and $5 million total.

“If we bid it again can we cut another $2.5 million?” asked Councilman Ted Forcht.

While residents were pleased the estimates went down, many still expressed concern that economic conditions should halt the sewer construction process.

“From what I’m hearing from national experts on this, you have individuals out there recommending not loaning money to cities due to the risk of bankruptcy. Kansas is headed toward bankruptcy... I just don’t think we should be throwing money this way and that way through this crisis we’re going through,” Kiester said.

Kiester and Forcht voted against awarding the contracts to Mitchell and Stark because both did not want the sewer project to continue.

Recker said he believed D.N. Higgins should be considered for one of the two districts because they were the reason for the savings in the most recent bid round.

Chairman Bill Trotter looked at it differently.

“That would be penalizing $700 per house for those in D.N. Higgins’ Kendall District compared to if Mitchell and Stark did it,” Trotter said.

Councilman Jerry Gibson said he could support Recker, but had some reserves.

“I’m hesitant as far as D.N. Higgins goes because I don’t like feeling threatened,” Gibson said.

Trotter and City Manager Steve Thompson reminded everyone in the council room that the reason for the bid was to find the lowest price from a quality firm, which in this case was Mitchell and Stark.

Residents began filing into the Council chambers as the debate continued. Residents made it clear they wanted to save money.

Vickie Kelber, a former Councilwoman and current resident of the Kendall District said she was watching the Council meeting on TV and rushed in to urge Council save everyone money.

“Remember it was your choice to go out to get bids,” Kelber said addressing Council.

D.N. Higgins protested, but was not recommending rebidding, she said.

“I live on Kendall Drive and I’m ready to have the sewer done now rather than later,” said Donna Kahn, one of several residents who said she rushed in after hearing the debate on TV.

There were a lot of factors that led to a $5 million decrease in cost over the last six to nine months.

Brian Penner, CEO of Mitchell & Stark, compared the first bid to “fine dining” and the second to “McDonald’s.”

The idea of low quality didn’t sit well with Council, so details were requested.

Penner said the end product would be the same, but service would be lower.

He added that Mitchell and Stark was the low bidder in Cape Coral and lost the $18 million project when Cape Coral chose to cancel their sewer project.

“You got the benefit of that. I wanted to keep my workers employed,” Penner said.

Joel said fuel costs changed dramatically since the summer when oil was $150 per barrel and gas was more than $4 per gallon.

Council voted 5-2 to approve both projects to Mitchell and Stark totaling about $12.1 million with Kiester and Forcht dissenting.

Recker requested that Council receive an update on any change orders during the sewer construction each month.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 22

marcoislandres writes:

Cape Coral has the right idea unfortunately Marco Island will push ahead with the strp hurting many of it's citizens in these tough financial times.
More foreclosures to come on Marco.

chicky writes:

How about rebidding the connection costs and septic tank abandonment costs to homeowners also? This would also be a good thing for the city to push.

jaguar writes:

Wow I must phone the bank immediately and tell them to hold fire on my house foreclosure.

playballonK writes:

I smell a Joel rat.

jaguar writes:

No the smell is 26gallons of gas floating around in someones bilge today.

playballonK writes:

how 'bout we give that 55 mil to the poor saps that have to pay the STRP, throw Aceri, Joel and the rest of them in the clink and have a huge 'Marco Island is back party'
Who's in?

JohninMarco writes:

Too little and way to late. People are leaving or trying to and the local business are hurting. The city coucil continues to to march into this economic swamp called the STRP.

ChuckKiester writes:

For those of you in the Kendall and Mackle Park sewer districts, please hold off your celebration of saving upwards to $700 per ERC as I believe you will ultimately find out that even though the lower bids are good news, you may or may not see the benefit of the lower bids depending on how much the city will have to pay in interest in order to sell its bonds given the nation's current bond market where the so-called financial experts are advising their clients to avoid municipal bond issues due to their susceptability to possible bankruptcy. I personally am concerned that the city will not be able to sell its bonds due to our current national economic crises and, if not, how will we pay our short-term bank loans which are being used to pay the contractors for the STRP construction? Perhaps bankruptcy will bring in federal bailout monies if it should ever come to that, but you and I know that it will be at a price none of us wish to contemplate. We need to take a break and examine these issues carefully before going blindly forward on the basis of campaign promises. Our situation has changed since the last election and those changed circustances need to be acknowledged. Chuck Kiester

marcoislandres writes:

Chuck,

When the STRP was started everyone had equity in their home, even if you bought it 6 months prior.
Now many people are paying a mortgage on a home that is worth less then they owe and the City wants to add a $20,000 lean on these property?.
I understand that the majority our residents voted for the candidates that would continue the STRP and I have no problem with that I just think postponing the STRP for a year or two or until property values recover would be a wise decision.

happy6 writes:

CHUCK AND THE REST....what about us poor saps in lamplighter...joel said it would cost much less than 15k/hookup...we still don't know what the cost is. rumor at city hall is 16k/household...how can that be since dewatering was nonexistent in lamplighter...???? joel tells us less than 15 and it's gonna' cost 15k +...what does the esteemed council have to say to that?
and i love mitchell and stark....they are a class act...joel is the crook in my opinion.

Marconian writes:

I respect your opinion van but there was two dewatering systems located in the lamplighter district.and if it was unnoticeable other than the well pointing pipes and frat tank then that means the system was sound and working well,AKA NO GAS,NO ODER...

dc5799 writes:

Is Q.E. out of the picture or are they still doing construction on the Island?

GBR writes:

Post #9

You must not have read Charlie Neals article. Your values are good as gold!

Brian Penner, CEO of Mitchell & Stark, compared the first bid to “fine dining” and the second to “McDonald’s.”

How does one interpret this? The first bid was a rip-off??

lauralbi1 writes:

Mr. Kiester: With all due respect, you still have no appreciation for the Democratic procerss. Your vote is one thing, but your editorials are a reflection of your immaturity and inability to accept the wishes of the majority of those who live and vote on Marco Island. As you are a Councilman, why expouse controversy when you should be trying to preach Democracy and a bright future. As many of us say, if you cannot live with it and accept it, move !! After all, you in a unique group as the only Public Official convicted of deleting e-mails. I would try to make up for that by bringing all sides more together rather than creating more separation.
Ed Issler

lauralbi1 writes:

By the way, I meant to say the only Public Official in the State of Florida convicted of deleting e-mails.
Ed Issler

dc5799 writes:

Ed,
Please use your spell-check or buy a dictionary. Stop with the majority, you have beaten that to death.

ChuckKiester writes:

Ed Issler: Your statement above regarding my expousing controversal issues is in direct contradition to your earlier statement stating that I "have no appreciation for the democratic process." On this point, I rest my case. Chuck Kiester

playballonK writes:

Issler, how small is that thing anyway?

Marconian writes:

chuck considering your on the city council would it not behoove you to keep your comments at city hall,rather than expressing your Roderick or politics as it may be here,as to it may cause legal dispute.

lauralbi1 writes:

Chuck: I guess I was referring to your "implied" duty as a City Councilman and trying to work for all the citizens. You are certainly correct that you have the right to express yourself as every citizen does. But the majority has spoken and now all you are expressing is "sour grapes". So my point is that you are putting your selfish need to express your sour grapes ahead of your duty as a Councilman to carry out the will of the "people" who voted for the STRP and it's representatives who support it onto Council. And further, your Comments above are all speculation and are meant to put a negative spin on a good thing. For even if what you say above is true, the savings will accrue to the Homeowner.
Oh, and for the blogger above that has had enough talk about the majority or the will of the people, I suggest you move to Cuba, China, North Korea or ?? You certainly don't belong in the U.S. Because the majority will continue to dictate the Council and direction for our Community.
Ed Issler

ChuckKiester writes:

A good friend of mine recently was involved in conversation with a couple of fellows who were ragging on the so-called "malcontents." At one point, one of them stated that those people who live here and can no longer afford it due to circumstances beyond their control including the extra burden of the STRP, then let them go. My friend's response was "that's a bit harsh, don't you think?" I have a problem with the one who espoused the position that "those who cannot afford to stay on the island should just pick up and leave." My problem, first and foremost is that as in all of nature, diversity equals stability---we lose our middle income families, we will lose the island's capability of providing services and keeping our businesses open during off-season (WE WILL NO LONGER BE A COMMUNITY). Secondly, I would ask this individual if he/she has tried to sell his/her house recently. Chuck Kiester

Marconian writes:

I don't believe mr.penner was trying to establish that they made a low bid and will perform low quality work they will always hold a high standard on the work they (Michell & stark)complete,but rather that with the change in fuel prices compared to 5/6 months ago and the need to keep core employees of there company employed due to unfortunate circumstances in a neighboring county,but also with that note I believe going above and beyond the limits of the work scope was what he was referring to as a steak house to McDonald's bid meaning the work the city pays for is what they get which no doubt will be a quality job in the end, not all employers would bite the bullet so to speak and take a lose in order to keep its workers employed but with all respect they seem to be a as van stated a real class act.

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