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County's jail construction bid of $14.05 million isn't the lowest, competitor claims

PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (March 4, 2019) — A controversy over who is the lowest bidder for a jail construction project expected to run about $14 million spilled into public view at Monday’s county commission meeting when Ladon Curran, a representative of Bales Construction, objected to a proposal to award a $14.05 million jail construction bid to Reese Construction. Curran said a bid calculation error shows that Reese was not the lowest bidder and a multiprime bid came in several hundred thousand dollars lower.

“At this point I'm wondering if you've awarded that contract to Kevin Reese,” Curran said. “It's an unfortunate mistake, it seems."

Curran presented documents stating that a multi-bid option was $13,770,397, lower than the Reese bid of $14,053,000, by a total of $282,603. According to Curran's documents, a bid review by the Joseph Kent bid estimation company erroneously calculated the multi-bid option at $14,548,000.

Presiding Commissioner Gene Newkirk said the contract has not officially been awarded yet for the Pulaski County Jail, but he's spoken with County Attorney Kevin Hillman.

“Kevin doesn't award the contract,” Curran replied.

Newkirk said he knows that, but due to the size of the contract he wants to get legal advice to make sure matters are done according to law. 

“I'll get you an answer by tomorrow,” Newkirk said.

While not voting yet on selecting the construction bidder, commissioners met with Hillman, with Sid Douglas III, an attorney with Gilmore and Bell PC, the county's bond attorney for the jail construction bond, and a Piper Jaffray Companies representative, Todd Goffoy. Hillman had previously and asked that Douglas be sent up to the Pulaski County Prosecutors Office for discussion when he arrived.

“What we're doing today is passing the bonding ordinance so we can get the money to do the jail,” Hillman said. “I don't know if you guys know, but we got an A-minus rating, which is pretty good... what we have built in here is we could actually go up to $14.9 in case there's something wrong, there's a built-in contingency."

At Hillman’s recommendation, commissioners voted authorized bonds not to exceed $14.9 million. The expected actual bond amount, with interest, is $14.2 million.

Newkirk said there should be more money from the bond than necessary.

“The way we've got it set up, we should be able to pay it off three years early and still have money in the bank,” Newkirk said.

In other business:

  • State Rep. Steven Lynch  presented a House of Representatives resolution to former County Clerk Brent Bassett.
  • A special meeting of the county commission has been called for 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 5.

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