Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Faced with just one bid, county pauses new building

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Imagine sending out party invitations and receiving just one RSVP, or maybe not even that. That’s how it has been lately for both the county and the city of Granbury where bidding projects is concerned.

At a recent regular meeting of the Hood County Commissioners Court, the county judge and commissioners were hesitant to accept a bid for construction of a metal building. Why? Because the price was well into six figures, and because it was the only bid submitted.

“It’s really hard to identify whether or not the bid is reasonable when you only have one,” Emergency Management Coordinator Margaret Campbell stated. She added the acknowledgement that the offer might be “totally reasonable.”

Whether the county finds a better deal soon or accepts the offer that is on the table could be important. The metal building in question is to protect the county’s most valuable and expensive assets, chief among them the county’s 50,000-pound Mobile Command Unit for use by various enforcement agencies and first responders.

Formerly used as a training vehicle for the FBI, the Mobile Command Unit is valued at $1.2 million but, thanks to a deal that was reportedly the envy of other agencies, the county was able to purchase it for just $195,000. Even sweeter was that it cost local taxpayers nothing. The unit was purchased with Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds.

Other county assets proposed for protective housing include emergency response equipment and the just-arrived Hood County Library Bookmobile, a 29-foot-long Freightliner MT55 purchased for $323,000 and funded partially by the Library Foundation Board and a $100,000 donation from Rachel Ledbetter.

The Commissioners Court first began publicly discussing construction of an “emergency management shed” last October.

The sole bid, for construction of a 3,820-square-foot metal building, came in at $331,075 and was discussed at the court’s regular meeting on April 25.

The pricing includes dirt work and a concrete slab thick enough to accommodate the significant weight of the vehicles. A 22-foot-by-90-foot area would be partially enclosed and a 46-foot-by-40-foot area would be fully enclosed with roll-up doors, according to Purchasing Agent Glenn Tilleman.

The proposal was for the cost to be paid from Fund 101, which is the emergency management fund.

Some on the court raised questions about whether a cheaper option might be found.

Fire Marshal Jeff Young stated the opinion that the county is “handcuffed by the government” through requirements that make bidding “difficult for local contractors.” He noted that a local contractor he spoke with claimed that he could build the building faster and for half the price than what was outlined in the submitted bid.

Tilleman commented that the contractor Young spoke with could have simply downloaded the bid paperwork, filled it out, and submitted it. Young responded that the man was busy building metal buildings during the bidding period. County Judge Ron Massingill told Young that a contractor’s ability to submit a performance bond is also an “important” part of the process.

Tilleman told the county judge and commissioners that county staff “went to extensive efforts” to make the process as easy as possible.

“We try to make it accessible to everybody, far and wide,” he stated.

The court voted unanimously to table the matter so that further review and research can be done.