Walla Walla City attorney remains firm against accepting low bid

The bid was the lowest by $100,000 but failed to include $25,000 in optional discretionary work.

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WALLA WALLA - A 12-page memo from City Attorney Tim Donaldson affirmed his stance that City Council members should not accept the lowest bid for the Sudbury Landfill Area Six closure project to ensure bidding fairness, to avoid the possibility of future litigation and to not inadvertently give the lowest bidder an unfair out of the bid process.

On Wednesday, City Council will take on the bid dispute for a second time in as many weeks. At issue is whether the city should accept a roughly $1.5 million low bid for the closure project from Boss Construction Inc., even though the bid failed to include $25,000 in optional discretionary work that could be imposed by city staff for unforeseen work.

The next highest bidder, Selland Construction Inc., did include the $25,000 in discretionary work, but also came in just over $100,000 more, at about $1.6 million for the project.

In Donaldson's memo dated May 5, the city attorney wrote that allowing Boss Construction Inc. to increase its bid by $25,000 at this point would "raise at least an appearance of the worst kind of bidder favoritism."

In his memo, Donaldson detailed numerous problems with the Boss Construction Inc. bid. One of the key concerns for Donaldson was that if the council accepts the bid, Boss Construction Inc. would still be able to withdraw from the bid process without any monetary loss, while the other bidders risk losing a five percent total-bid security deposit.

"In my opinion, Council shouldn't be asking whether the bidder still wants the contract, and it should instead be asking what would happen if this bidder was standing in front of the Council asking to get out of its bid, because that is the test."

At the April 28 City Council meeting, Council members Jim Barrow, Dominick Elia, Shane Laib and Fred Mitchell voted in favor of tabling the bid award for discussion and vote, while members Jerry Cummins, Conrado Cavazos and Mayor Barbara Clark voted against tabling the bid.

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