DAMASCUS PROJECT Skip lower bid, officials suggest

Commissioners will have the final say on which contractor is hired.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A New Springfield contractor submitted the lowest bid for building a sanitary sewer collection system in the Damascus area, but might not get the job.
Excavation Technologies Inc. submitted a bid of $367,000 for the job, which is part of a plan to eliminate septic tanks in Damascus and surrounding Goshen Township.
It was the lower of two bids for the collection system, said Bill Coleman, office manager for the Mahoning County Sanitary Engineer.
The other was from Granite Construction of North Lima, which bid $492,000.
Coleman said that after sanitary officials reviewed each company's proposals and references, they decided it would be best to skip the low bid and accept the next lowest.
Making final decision: The sanitary engineer's department has made that recommendation to county commissioners, who will have the final say in who gets the contract.
David Sugar, president of Excavation Technologies, has been linked to U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant of Poland, but Coleman said that had no bearing on the decision.
"We just didn't feel they had the type of experience necessary to do this type of project, based on their references," Coleman said.
Sugar, of New Middletown, pleaded guilty last year to perjury, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
Federal authorities said he provided false testimony when questioned about work one of his companies had done for Traficant at the congressman's farm in Green Township.
He has not been sentenced.
Grievance filed: Sugar was not available to comment, but a spokeswoman at his office said he has filed a grievance with county commissioners over the bidding issue.
Commissioners will conduct a hearing at 9 a.m. Aug. 1, during which Sugar will try to persuade them that his company can do the job.
The spokeswoman said Sugar will make an appeal at the same time for another county sewer job for which he submitted a low bid but was passed over.
That one, for a project on Woodworth Road, was submitted by Honey Creek Contracting, of which Sugar is also president.
After the hearing, commissioners will decide which contractor gets the project, Coleman said.
They could take action at their meeting the next day or delay voting until they have more information.
Conti Corporation of Lowellville was the low bidder for construction of the treatment plant for the Damascus sewer system with a bid of about $1.18 million, Coleman said.

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