Bloomfield school board awards roof contract despite concerns with bids

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bloomfield, Mo.--Bloomfield School Board President Don Lafferty broke a 3-3 tie vote of the board by voting in favor of awarding a contract to Pyramid Roofing of Sikeston. It will cost $476,500 to construct a new roof on the elementary school building. The action came after considerable discussion at their regular meeting Monday night.

The new roof on the elementary took up much of the meeting. Gary Barbee, an architect with Sam Winn and Associates in Springfield, addressed the board about the five bids that were received on the project.

Those bids were: Drury Construction of Cape Girardeau, $433,444; Roofing Services of Columbia, $433,900; Pyramid Roofing of Sikeston, $476,500; Swift Roofing of Murray, Ky., $498,200; and Quality Roofing of Senath, $543,211.

The issue discussed by the board was whether to hire an architect to draw up new specifications for the roof and then rebid the project or award the contract based on the bids that were received. Drury Construction and Roofing Services did not submit bids that met the specifications used to advertise for bids. Those specifications came from John Lasher, a representative of the Garland Company, a roofing manufacturer. The Pyramid Roofing bid used Garland products.

Barbee said comparing the bids was like comparing "apples and oranges" and that there were several types of roofs that could be used for the elementary building. He said the Garland Company was well respected and had "good roofs." He said the products used in the bid by Roofing Services were from Tremco and were also good products.

The basic difference in the roofing bids was in the material used for the top coating on the modified membrane, Barbee said. The specifications called for a coal tar polymer. A representative of Tremco told the board at their last meeting that coal tar polymer was unique to Garland and not available through other manufacturers.

Lasher said Tremco does indeed make a cold tar polymer top coat, but chose not to bid it because "it would have been $30,000 to $40,000 more than the bid they submitted."

Lasher said the specifications were drawn up in conjunction with school officials and the coal tar method was chosen because it provides five coats of water sealant as opposed to a single membrane that can be easily punctured. He reminded the board that the roof on the gym was put on using his products and there had not been any problems. He said using a cheaper roof would lead to the same problems that the district was not addressing, which is leaks in the roof.

Barbee said the original bids were put out using "performance specifications." He said this was one way to approach a project, but an architect could draw up plans based on a design rather than products and open the project to more contractors.

"My recommendation is to get away from the manufacturer writing specs and open the bidding process to everyone," Barbee stated.

The board briefly discussed how much pitch was needed for the roof and how long of a warranty was needed for the roof. They discussed whether a shorter warranty would lower the cost and whether a different roof design would decrease the cost of the project.

Barbee told Lasher that the board had "budget issues" with the bid from Pyramid and was looking to bring down the cost of the project.

"I didn't know that," responded Lasher.

Lloyd Stoner, owner of Pyramid Roofing, also told the board that rebidding the project using different specifications could lead to another roofing problem. He said his company and Garland stood behind their roof and it would be a quality job. He said other contractors from outside the area may not be as committed or have the oversight during construction that his company and Garland offered.

Board member Ryan Mayo asked Barbee what the timeline would be if the board decided to rebid the project. Barbee said it would take about two weeks to draw up the specifications and another two weeks to advertise for bids. He said it would likely be the middle of July before construction could start.

Each board member weighed in on the issue as follows:

Board member Trevor Pulley said he was familiar with roofing projects and knew that a quality product costs more, but was worth it. He said the higher bid by Pyramid was for a better product and it would not only solve the current roofing problem, but would last for years. He said he didn't want future board members to look back and question why the current board opted to go with a cheaper roof and create another problem in a few years.

Board member David Cooper stated, "I have a problem with the way the bids went out."

He said he feared the district would be getting a "Cadillac" of a roof when they only needed a roof that would service a 70-year-old building. He said he would like to consider all options on the roof.

Mayo said he believed that other contractors could have bid on the cold tar method on the roof, but chose not to because it was more expensive. He said the elementary building roof had many different slopes and the roof chosen to put out for bids was the best for solving the problems on that building in the future. He also questioned why the board would spend approximately $30,000 to hire an architect. He noted that the amount was close to additional cost for the bid by Pyramid.

"I'm not afraid to move forward on the bids we have," Mayo said.

Board member Bill Robison said he agreed with Cooper.

"I have a problem with not using an architect to draw up the specifications," Robison said.

Robison went on to say that as an engineer with the Highway Department, he thought the specs should have been drawn up to allow more participation from contractors using different products.

Board member John Newell countered that all contractors had the opportunity to bid on the project. He said he didn't understand why Roofing Services didn't submit a bid using the Tremco coal tar method, since it was revealed that they did, in fact, have one. He said that made him think that the Roofing Services bid was submitted simply because it was a cheaper system.

"I believe that everyone had a chance to bid using the specifications we put out and some chose not to," said Newell, "We should give the contract to the one that did meet the specifications."

Board member David Battles stated, "My problem is with the proprietary specs."

Battles said his company had bid on projects before when propriety specs were used and he didn't feel it was fair to his company.

Dr. Nick Thiele, superintendent, said, "We need to make a decision tonight so that we can hopefully get it completed this summer."

He recommended that the board reject the bids and hire an architect to draw up new specifications. It was made a motion by Robison and seconded by Cooper. On a roll call vote it was approved by Robison, Cooper and Battles. Pulley, Mayo and Newell voted no and Lafferty voted no as the tie-breaking vote.

Mayo then made a motion to award the bid to Pyramid Roofing at a cost of $476,500. The vote was the same as before with the six board members equally split. Lafferty voted yes and the motion passed.

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