DuPage County Board members didn't need any discussion Tuesday before approving nearly $12 million in flood-relief projects.
But when it came to a $51,750 contract for the demolition of houses on three flood-prone properties, board members started a debate that ended with a rare 9-8 vote.
The board refused to hire KLF Enterprises to do the work even though the Markham-based company was deemed the lowest responsible bidder by county staff.
At issue is whether union representatives who urged DuPage to reject the KLF contract are correct about safety claims they made against the company. They referred to a recent letter where Chicago officials said KLF won't get demolition work from the city until the company addresses "safety risks posed to the citizens of Chicago by hazardous buildings."
Board member Don Puchalski said Chicago's letter and other complaints convinced him the company isn't a "responsible" bidder.
But Jim Zay, chairman of the county board's stormwater committee, said he heard nothing from staff that would disqualify KLF.
"The last thing I want to do is get in a lawsuit after we had testimony from our staff saying this meets our criteria," Zay said.
A telephone message left with a KLF representative wasn't returned Tuesday.
KLF's price quote was roughly $8,000 less than the next lowest bidder. Because the board rejected the contract, the project needs to be rebid.
The three parcels, which the county owns, are located in Lisle, Roselle and near Addison. The plan calls for razing structures so the properties can become open space.
In the meantime, it's unclear if the delay will cause the county to lose grant money from IEMA that would pay 75 percent of the project's cost. The grant is scheduled to expire July 31.
Anthony Charlton, DuPage's director of stormwater management, said the county has requested an extension, but there's no guarantee it will be approved.
Two much larger contracts were approved by the county board Tuesday without any problems.
Earthwerks Land Improvement and Development Corp. will be paid nearly $3.7 million to build a flood protection berm and do river restoration along the West Branch of the DuPage River in Warrenville. The project, scheduled to start later this month, calls for a berm -- with a multiuse path on top of it -- to be built along the east side of River Road.
Also this month, V3 Construction Group, Ltd., is expected to begin work on a roughly $8.1 million wetlands project at the West Branch Forest Preserve near Bartlett.
As part of the multiyear project, more than 95 acres of wetlands will be created and 13 acres of existing wetlands will be enhanced. In addition, a stretch of the West Branch that runs through the preserve will be restored with the goal of reconnecting it with the floodplain and improving the health of the river system.