MAHONING COUNTY Engineer: Don't go with low bidder

Vicki Sherlock was the only commissioner who'd say how she plans to vote.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County commissioners were to vote today on whether a New Springfield contractor who submitted low bids on two county sanitary sewer projects will get the jobs.
A. David Sugar is president of both Honey Creek Contracting and Excavation Technologies Inc.
Honey Creek submitted the apparent low bid for a sewer collection project on Woodworth Road, which runs through Beaver and Springfield townships, and ETI was the apparent low bidder for a sewage collection system in Damascus. A separate contractor will build a treatment plant for the Damascus project.
Recommendation: Sanitary Engineer Joseph Warino has recommended that commissioners reject those bids and accept the next-lowest. He says Sugar's companies don't have the manpower or equipment to get the work done on time.
Warino recommended awarding contracts to Granite Construction of North Lima to build the Damascus collection system for $492,000, and Conti Corp. of Lowellville to build the Damascus treatment plant for $1.1 million.
ETI bid on only the collection system for the Damascus project. The bid was $73,600 lower than Granite's.
Warino also recommended that commissioners award contracts to J.S. Paris Excavating of North Jackson and Marucci & amp; Gaffney of Youngstown. Both contracts are for construction of the collection system in the Woodworth Road project and total $553,400. Honey Creek's bid was about $14,000 lower.
At a hearing last week with commissioners, Sugar said he uses the same workers and equipment for both companies, which Warino said is part of the problem. If one company is doing a project in one part of the county, the other company is effectively tied up from doing other work, he said.
Commissioners Ed Reese and David Ludt said they had not decided which way to vote, but Vicki Allen Sherlock said she intends to go along with Warino's recommendation.
What Sherlock said: She said Honey Creek has a track record of finishing projects late, for example, the county sanitary sewer system it is installing in North Lima.
"We have had delay after delay with that project," Sherlock said. "It was just one thing after another."
Sugar said last week that the delays were caused by difficulties obtaining rights of way to get onto state-owned property. He said if the county tosses his bids and goes to the next-lowest, it will cost the county another $88,000 or so, but Sherlock said that's not a factor.
"In the end, it costs the taxpayers a lot more money to deal with the problems we've had with him," she said.
Sugar said he'll sue the county if his bids are rejected.
"That's certainly his right to do so," Sherlock said.

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