Commissioners Open to Reconsidering Public Works Project Approach

Commissioners Open to Reconsidering Public Works Project Approach

Sweetwater County plans to use the former Knight Oil Tools building as its new public works facility, but a bid received by the county has Public Works Director Gene Legerski questioning if a different approach is needed. SweetwaterNOW photo by David Martin.

SWEETWATER COUNTY – The Sweetwater County commissioners rejected a bid for its planned public works facility Tuesday morning, citing the fact they only received one bid, which was higher than the bid estimate provided by the architect. 

The Public Works Combined Facility is intended to be located at 3 Layos Drive in Rock Springs in a cluster of buildings that were formerly occupied by Knight Oil Tools. The county received one bid for the project, which was from A. Pleasant Construction for $6,480,600. The alternative bids for additional items with the project were for $930,930. Both bids were higher than the architect’s estimates, which were $5,277,934 for the base bid and $462,190 for the alternative bids.

“I recommend since we have only one bidder … that you guys as a board reject all bids,” Gene Legerski, director of public works for the county, told the commissioners Tuesday.

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Legerski said his recommendation is based on the county receiving only one bid for the project that was much higher than the estimate, saying it’s common practice for the Wyoming Department of Transportation to reject the bids under similar circumstances.

Legerski said the county has different options available to it, which are to either rebid the project in August in hopes new bidders would be enticed to submit bids or to use a construction manager at risk process.

“We can rebid this in August, maybe it’s a more favorable bidding time,” he said.

The construction manager at risk method would allow the county to work with different contractors and pre-qualify them for the project before entering into a contract with them. The county would pay a fee upfront to have the contractors review the plans to ensure they can work within the scope of the project for a specific amount, giving the county a guaranteed maximum amount. It also allows the county to work with the contractor to determine if added work is feasible with the maximum amount they quoted.

“You sit down with them and say ‘hey, I was looking at this, what’s the feasibility of doing it like this,’ and they go out and solicit subcontractor prices for you,” Legerski said.

Using the construction manager at risk process, Legerski said the county can talk with the contractor to work out problems. Legerski said one of the things needing to be addressed in the middle building of the property is leveling out the floor. He said his thought was to bring in a roto-milling company to go in and remove up to four inches off of the floor. However, Legerski said the contractor, after speaking with the architect, opted to approach it by jackhammering the 170,000 square feet of floor and pouring new concrete. Legerski said the county couldn’t provide that information during a regular bid process but could talk about it through the construction manager at risk process. 

“I think the construction manager at risk is the better alternative, but let me look at it over the next month or two, and let me bring something back to you,” Legerski said.

Commissioner Robb Slaughter said the construction manager at risk method could be a better approach, saying Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County has used the method to complete their capital construction projects. 

The commissioners decided to give Legerski time to come up with a new proposal to accomplish the project. 

Keaton West, the chairman of the board, recused himself from the discussion because his employer, Vaughn’s Plumbing and Heating, submitted a contractor bid to A. Pleasant Construction for the project.