Vandalia opts for 'local,' not cheaper

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Contract will keep jobs, money here

By The Staff

A Vandalia contracting firm won a six-figure city contract Monday, after officials rejected two lower bids in favor of keeping jobs here.

“We need to make sure we look highly at the local men and women,” Mayor Ricky Gottman said, after aldermen voted 5-3 against accepting an Okawville-based contractor’s bid to perform a sanitary sewer extension project on West Main Street.

That company estimated it could do the job for about $60,000 less than Precise Construction of Vandalia. Another contractor from Kell, estimated it could perform the work for about $4,000 less than Precise, which eventually won the contract in a 6-2 vote by aldermen.

City contracts are usually awarded to the lowest bidding firm, but some aldermen feared that low-bidder Haier Plumbing & Heating could not do the job on a budget of about $190,000.

“Who’s to say they don’t go out and hit water (when digging), then charge us another $60-70,000,” said alderman Chad Feldpouch, who voted to reject a contract for the lowest bid.

“But I hate to pay more than $50,000 more than we need to,” said alderman Bret Brosman. “I’m looking out for Vandalia’s money.”

Millions of taxpayer dollars are lost to outside contracting firms, said Rick Cripe, president of Precise. He told the council his company was skilled in performing “big utility” work–– and could complete the job within a budget of about $250,000.

“Since it was obviously not the council’s pleasure to go with the low bidder, it only makes sense to go with a local bidder,” Brosman said.

Another city contract was awarded Monday to Kell-based Furlong Excavating. The company submitted the lowest bid, of about $68,000 for a proposed water main extension project on West Main Street.