Elgin, contractors still adjusting to responsible bidder ordinance

Most companies don't comply with Elgin's responsible-bidder ordinance

Updated 7/26/2012 10:22 AM
  • Upgrades to Elgin's Eastside Recreation Center will be delayed.

      Upgrades to Elgin's Eastside Recreation Center will be delayed. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Upgrades to Elgin's Eastside Recreation Center will be delayed because of noncompliance with a relatively new responsible-bidder ordinance that applies to large city projects.

Council members rejected bids Wednesday for a $1.9 million project that includes heating, air conditioning and plumbing fixes to complement renovations to programming space that are already in the works. City Manager Sean Stegall recommended rejecting the bids during the city council meeting, a formality that will allow the city to rebid the work.

None of the four lowest bidders turned in all the necessary documentation related to the responsible-bidder ordinance, which in part requires contractors on city projects costing more than $50,000 to have a workforce reflective of the demographics of the region or provide proof that they made a "good faith effort" to do so. A fifth bid was $240,000 higher than the lower four, according to Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal, prompting officials to go back to the beginning and tweak the process.

"We're going to have mandatory bid meetings, at least initially, while the word gets out and people know what we're requiring," Kozal said.

City council approved the responsible-bidder ordinance in March 2011 with strong support from the local labor union. Besides the diversity component, it requires contractors to provide proof of participation in apprentice programs, effectively guaranteeing workers have adequate training for the projects.

Rich Hoke, building maintenance superintendent, said rebidding the work will put the Eastside Rec Center project behind about six weeks. The more time-sensitive work started after the council approved earlier bids in June, but the bulk of the project is tied up in the current bid delay. The new completion date is expected in February.

Hoke said similar issues of noncompliance with the responsible-bidder ordinance have affected several other city projects this year, the first of its implementation.

"We're still learning the new process, too," Hoke said. "It's a little bit of a learning curve for us, too."

The Eastside Rec Center will be rebid right away to give interested contractors another shot at the paperwork.

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