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Patching sidewalk isn't easy

The specifications for fixing the Kenneth City walkway were confusing, leaving widely disparate bids.

By ANNE LINDBERG

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 23, 2001


KENNETH CITY -- After an hour's battle, the Town Council decided to once again ask that contractors submit bids to repair the sidewalk in front of Dixie Hollins High School.

The battle broke out among council members during a specially called meeting Tuesday when council members Al Carrier and Ron Sneed both came up with bids to fix the 620 square yards of concrete. As the person in charge of public works, Carrier brought a range of bids to the meeting. They went from about $25,170 to $28,200.

Fellow council member Sneed, however, said he had gotten a bid as low as $19,500 for the same work. Things quickly broke down.

The difference in bids sparked an argument between Carrier and Sneed. Carrier urged that council members award the bid to his low bidder so the work could immediately begin.

Carrier said the contractors he had contacted were recommended by Pinellas Park, county officials and others. He said he was not familiar with any of Sneed's bidders.

He asked if Sneed had gotten them out of the Yellow Pages.

But council member Theresa Zemaitis was not so sure that the council should just award the bid as Carrier urged. A $5,000 difference in price is substantial, she said.

Town Attorney Paul Marino jumped into the fray, saying the poor bid specifications were causing part of the problem. Marino had suggested the town contact Tampa Bay Engineering for help in drafting the specifications.

But instead of helping, Marino said, this "so-called set of specifications is an absolute abomination."

That made it difficult for council members to compare the bids to each other and determine the best deal.

"We're Mickey Mousing around with six or seven different estimates (and) we don't know that they all cover the same thing," Mayor Bill Smith said.

Smith urged that the council redo the specifications and ask the contractors to bid again. This time, he said, the bids should be sealed and delivered to the Town Hall. They should not be opened until the council meeting at which they are to be discussed.

The rest of the council agreed.

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