My Turn: City officials unfairly insulted contractors
With my 40-plus years of experience in roadway design and construction as background, I was totally embarrassed for contractors F. L. Merrill and E. D. Swett after hearing the comments made by the mayor and mayor pro tem during the Concord City Council meeting Tuesday evening.
They both implied the contractors were gouging the city when they used the words “ripped off” after expressing dismay about contractor bid items being higher by a factor of several times over their engineer’s estimate.
The term “risk” was used earlier by the city consultant and city engineer as one reason the bid prices were so disparate.
Perhaps the phrase “degree of difficulty” would have made it easier for the mayor and mayor pro tem to understand the problem. For example, a piece of granite curb would cost locally about the same for any contractors to buy. No rip-off there.
But how, when, where, how many and under what conditions, complications and controls does that piece of granite curb have to be installed is what causes the base price to increase.
The contractors did not create the degree of difficulty. The requirements in the city’s bid package caused the escalation.
Contractors try to beat out their competitors by submitting the lowest competitive bid and winning a contract. They do not know how many others they will be competing against, so they try to keep their prices as low as they can, hopefully make a modest profit and, at the worst, not risk losing their shirt.
Further, based on what has happened to this point, does anyone believe that if a second bid had been submitted in either the first or second round of bidding that it would have been low enough below the one submitted to have saved the day?
I doubt it and, actually, a second bid could even have been higher!
F. L. Merrill and E. D. Swett were publicly insulted, and a public apology is in order.
(Gil Rogers lives in Bow.)