Mount Prospect trustees have rejected the low bid to paint the village's elevated water tank downtown after an investigation by the village revealed what officials said was a disparity between the experience the bidder claimed and its actual work history.
The difference in the amount of the bids is startling.
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Rejecting the Bill's Commercial Painting bid of $292,742, the board awarded the contract for $590,000 -- 67 percent more money -- to L.C. United Painting of Sterling Heights, Mich. The high bid was by Classic Protective Coatings for $1,161,875, or three times the amount of the low bid.
The work is expected to begin next year.
The project has had trouble getting off the ground.
Originally, the tank, which was last painted 20 years ago, was slated to get a new coat of paint this year. But bids came in higher than the village expected.
Public Works Director Sean Dorsey told the board that Bill's provided inadequate references for its history in painting or rehabilitating elevated tanks.
A memo from the public works department said Bill's history included painting three tanks owned and maintained by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. The company claimed to have painted one elevated tank and two ground-level tanks.
But the village made a reference check with the district, which reported there is no elevated tank at the facility indicated in the reference. Moreover, although the district confirmed that Bill's has satisfactorily painted pipe galleries and railings for district facilities, the district could not confirm that the company painted tanks at any of the district's facilities.
In a subsequent face-to-face meeting, the department developed reservations about the company's approach to painting the tank, including how it would access the tank, how it would load equipment and materials to the top of the tank, and how it would handle overall work safety, according to the memo.
Bill's didn't return calls seeking comment.
Bill's has successfully performed work for the village, participating in the downtown streetlight pole and pedestrian pole painting project, village officials said.
Dorsey said L.C. United Painting has experience painting elevated tanks in Wisconsin, Michigan and northeast Illinois. The village checked references and found them satisfactory.
The village board commended public works personnel for checking into the firm's background.
"The safety is primary," Trustee Paul Hoefert said, noting that if something went wrong, the village could have serious liability.
Trustee A. John Korn said: "I think this is a prime example of our staff being on the ball and checking things out. This has saved us possibly a big problem down the road."