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July 21, 2008 2:30 pm

Council considering pool options ... again

Written by Tribune Staff

Sletten Construction of Wyoming does not meet the qualifications to bid on Contract No. 1 (pool construction) of the aquatic center project, according to Dave Burbach, of Burbach Aquatics Inc.
Burbach made the announcement at a July 18 City Council work session.
According to Burbach, a number of the projects submitted by Sletten Construction of Wyoming as project references were actually projects in which other Sletten companies were the contractors of record — specifically Sletten Construction of Nevada and Sletten Construction of Great Falls, Mont.
“Neither of these companies bid on the Powell project,” said Burbach, in a letter dated July 17.
Shawn Warner, president of Sletten Construction of Wyoming, said, “What we were told at the pre-bid meeting is that, if we submit our qualifications prior to the bid opening, they would be reviewed. The feedback I got before the bid date (from a person named Andy in the Burbach office) was that it looked like it's adequate.”
Burbach said there's no way Burbach Inc. would have known that the Sletten companies are separate corporations at that point.
“What do you do when you are hiring someone?” he asked. “Do you check their references before or after you decide to hire them? You check after you make a decision. That's what we did, and that's when we learned about this... If these were branch offices, we could overlook it, but these are separate entities.”
Warner, however, responded by saying, “We clearly have the qualifications. We have an industrial division that does nothing but water projects. Part of the crew has Wyoming and Montana backgrounds. We've been looking for the opportunity to build an industrial division in Wyoming. This is that opportunity. We're bringing qualified people who do this kind of work, and we're bringing them in to be part of our community.”
Councilman John Wetzel said, "The city said they'd put $1 million in the game. The state of Wyoming took care of that with the (State Loan and Investment) money. Now the city doesn't have any skin in the game. We'd be better off spending the $1 million and getting the pool built. We can whittle it down (Sletten's bid), build this thing, come up with the money and we're off and running...”
Councilman Jim Hillberry added, “I want to know from legal counsel that we're not opening ourselves up to litigation. That would cost far more than the $1.5 million. Where I'm at, I'm willing, if it makes sense and we're on firm standing, (to consider accepting the Sletten bid). I can consider it in a positive way. Until then, I'm on the fence.”
Accepting the Sletten bid should include a contract to value-engineer the price to a certain number, he said.
Councilman Shorb asked, “Is it fair to cut back on the scope of this pool? Or should we rebid and have the city taxpayers paying (more) for this pool?”
Council members, along with Mayor Mangold and City Administrator Zane Logan, decided to obtain a written opinion from city attorney Sandy Kitchen before making a decision on how to proceed. Further discussion, with the goal of making a decision, was on the Monday, July 21, City Council agenda.
Who's paying for the pool?
With the current wrangling over aquatic center bids, people again are asking where all the money will come from.
The Powell aquatic center will be funded, for the most part, by the 1-cent capital facilities tax authorized by voters in 2006. Of the $9-million share allotted to the Powell pool, $7 million will pay construction costs, with the remaining $2 million going into an operation-and-expenses endowment.
An additional $1 million from various sources, including the Moyer Foundation, Park County School District No. 1, and the Park County and Powell recreation districts, has been pledged toward pool construction.
The State Loan and Investment Board, at its mid-June meeting, approved Powell's request of close to $1.4 million as part of the county-wide consensus block grant for the next two fiscal years. It is up to Mayor Scott Mangold and the Powell City Council to determine how much of the grant money is used for the project. If the city decides to use the full amount, it will effectively freeze all other capital improvements within the city for the next biennium.
Assuming the city allocates the entire chunk of grant money to the project, the total available funding for construction is about $8.8 million.
Sletten Construction's low bid for aquatic center construction is close to $8 million.
In addition, Burbach Aquatics Inc. will receive 8 percent of the final bid price for design services — that includes specifications, plans, alternates and overseeing bid process(es) — and another 3 percent of the same end cost for on-site inspection and general oversight during the construction process. Burbach's fees are part of the project's construction allocation.
As of last week, City Treasurer Annette Thorington said, “We've paid (Burbach) $620,160 on contract and $28,699.61 in reimbursables.”
According to City Administrator Zane Logan, the city will perform close to $900,000 of in-kind work for other work such as roads, parking lots, landscaping and water systems. That figure doesn't count as cash pledged toward actual construction.