By Karen Bagwell
The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council agreed Tuesday to authorize the town manager to negotiate a contract to provide residents with emergency and basic road services.
Such services will include road grading, mowing of road rights-of-way and removing vegetation — including 24-hour service during emergencies. The purpose of negotiations is to bridge a gap in services not historically covered by a contract.
The council clarified that if a contract provider cannot meet service demands in an emergency such as a severe storm, the town is free to draft others to perform the service promptly.
According to Town Manager Mark Kutney, town roads are organized into 100 identified road segments comprising more than 29.5 miles.
The town expects all road segments to be graded at least twice a month, if needed. In addition, the town will expect the service provider to perform gravel road grading on an as-needed basis. Other repairs might also be needed, such as pothole fixes and patchwork on existing paved roads, such as Marcella Blvd., Compton Road and Bryan Road.
The bidders were ranked by an advisory group of experts. They were evaluated based on unit costs in the bid proposal form, willingness to commit to timely services and the ability to provide 24-hour emergency service.
Based on information from Town Attorney Michael Cirullo, the council agreed to waive a technicality in the town’s submission requirements to allow negotiations to proceed with the low bidder, the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District.
Kutney advised that all bidders turned in sufficient information, including the LGWCD.
The controversy over the waiver arose after one bidder, Sirdar Trucking Inc., pointed out that it submitted a complete package that included all five copies of all forms plus the original, as the town requested, but not all bidders did.
Kutney affirmed that the LGWCD turned in sufficient information and that “all of the boiler plate was submitted.”
However, representatives from Sirdar Trucking asked that the council consider disqualifying bidders that did not submit all copies of the forms.
In the end, the council authorized the town to negotiate with the LGWCD based on its status as low bidder. “Without a doubt, the low bid is in the best interest of the town,” Vice Mayor Ron Jarriel said.
Councilman Jim Rockett suggested that the town consider whether the LGWCD might need to increase its staff to fulfill a negotiated contract, and whether that might cost community residents more.
The town manager and attorney will negotiate with the LGWCD for the following services: road grading at $110 per mile unit cost, road repairs at a $50 hourly rate and emergency call services at a $50 hourly rate.
Council members decided that it is practical to group road grading and rock material bids together. However, the LGWCD was not the low bidder on rock materials. At $12 per unit, the district was nearly a dollar higher than the bid from Rio Bak at $11.05. But on grading, the LGWCD came in far lower at $110 to Rio Bak’s $300. So, in the interest of keeping the bids together, the council authorized Kutney to negotiate with the LGWCD on a combined bid, for greater savings to the town.
The council also authorized negotiation with C&C Loader, which was the low bidder on mowing services. C&C Loader also bid the lowest on removing vegetation and on dumping vegetation.
The town will expect the mowing contractor to perform mowing and maintenance of road segments no less than eight times a year. The firm would also trim or remove trees and shrubbery to eliminate hazards to motorists on an as-needed basis.
Council members discussed working from a revolving list of multiple service providers to ensure the town has backup coverage during emergencies. However, they opted to let the town negotiate a contract with the lowest bidders instead.
“Once a contract is negotiated, it will be negotiated with these contractors,” Mayor Dave Browning said. “At that point, we can still go with someone else in an emergency, but whoever we negotiate a contract with will get the work, there will not be a rotating list later on.”
Approvals on the items were made by 3-0 votes with councilmen Ryan Liang and Tom Goltzené absent.