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Company raises stink over rejected landfill bid

July 6, 2013

A Pilot Mountain, N.C. company is claiming something stinks after its low bid for a Landfill Final Closure project for the Carroll-Grayson-Galax Solid Waste Authority was rejected in favor of a bid more than $200,000 more expensive.


According to Daniel Lynch of Jimmy R. Lynch & Sons, Inc. (JRL), the company received a letter from the Solid Waste Authority on June 21 saying that even though it had the lowest bid of $1,318,422.30, the Authority had chosen to award the project to the next lowest bidder on grounds that JRL did not have sufficient experience with landfill closures. Instead, the Authority went with the next lowest bid of $1,536,250.20 to Sowers Construction of Mount Airy, N.C. for the final closure of approximately 13.6 acres of the Carroll-Grayson-Galax Regional Landfill.


“That represents a cost savings of $217,827.90 that the Solid Waste Authority would experience by awarding this project to us, as the deserving low bidders. Simply put, the taxpayers of Carroll County, in these tough economic times are being submitted to unnecessary spending due to insufficient post-bid investigation,” Daniel Lynch wrote in a letter to the Solid Waste Authority. “We would encourage the taxpayers of Carroll County to question their government’s decision and investigate further why the county would elect to spend over $200,000 over the amount of the low bid for this project, in order to award the contract to Sowers Construction of Mount Airy, N.C.”


In a letter to JRL, Solid Waste Authority Chairman C.M. Mitchell states the Authority determined the company’s bid did not meet the necessary criteria to award the contract, specifically mentioning a section of the project manual that says the successful bidder shall have experience with the construction of landfill closures and be familiar with the particular requirements of this project. It goes on to state that the required Contractor’s Qualification Statement should be submitted with the bid, which would be used to evaluate the contractor’s experience.


“In reviewing the qualification statement submitted by Lynch and Sons, no experience with landfill closures was provided. The one project listed on the qualification statement generally relating to landfill work was of relatively small scope and was conducted in 1999. Importantly, this project did not constitute a landfill closure,” Mitchell wrote to JRL. “Accordingly, the Authority has determined that the bid submitted by Lynch and Sons does not demonstrate that the company ‘has the capability, in all respects, to perform fully the contract requirements’ or that the company has submitted a bid that ‘conforms in all material respects to the Invitation to Bid,’ within the meaning of Virginia Code Section 2.2-4301.”


In JRL’s June 25 letter to the Solid Waste Authority, the company “reiterated” its qualifications and the experience of its anticipated project team. It also requested supporting information regarding the bid and the board’s decision, and inquired as to why further due diligence was not performed regarding its qualifications and experience.


“As part of our bid package we included an attachment which listed subcontractors which we intended to work with in completing this project. As we have done in the past and are currently doing in many other projects, and as Contractors industry-wide do as a normal and acceptable industry practice, our intent was to subcontract certain parts of the project to experts who specialize in their respective fields,” Daniel Lynch wrote. “For example, our intent was to subcontract the installation of liners and membranes to Hallaton, Inc., and the gas vent installations and adjustments to American Environmental Group (AEG). Hallaton has 20+ years of experience installing liners and AEG has over 10 years of experience constructing gas vents. The earthwork and general site work on this project, including the use of low ground pressure equipment, we would complete utilizing our own workforce and equipment, and we have over 40 years of experience in grading, earthwork and utility work.”


The company went on to say it felt all aspects of the work involved in the project would be completed by contractors with acceptable levels of experience in their fields. Furthermore, as added security, both subcontractors as well as JRL would be fully bonded and insured in completing the project, Lynch wrote.


Additionally, several aspects of the bid review process concerned the company and led it to question if its bid was evaluated fairly and legally.


“For instance, during the days following the bid opening on June 6, we made several attempts to contact the Engineer of record on this project, Michael A. Cavell, PE, of Draper Aden Associates, Inc., to discuss the forthcoming award, but the Engineer was non-responsive to all attempts. Finally after several attempts by phone and email, on June 13, we were contacted by Mr. Cavell and he informed us that he had been instructed by the Solid Waste Authority to not communicate with us until after the award meeting on June 21,” Lynch wrote. “We found this to be unconventional, since typically Engineers are very responsive to any questions or follow-up regarding a project that has just been bid.”


Additionally, Lynch wrote that no effort was made by the Solid Waste Authority or Draper Aden to request more information from JRL regarding its experience or qualifications, although a portion of the bid states, “To demonstrate qualifications to perform the Work, each Bidder must be prepared to submit within five days of Owner’s request written evidence such as financial data, previous experience, present commitments, information on subcontractors, suppliers or others, and other such data as may be called for in the Supplementary Instructions.”


Overall, Lynch wrote that the company did not feel the bid evaluation process has been fair. The company also requested to be provided with a copy of the Engineer’s letter of recommendation to the Authority with regards to the bid, a copy of detailed bid tabulation as certified by the Engineer, including the specific bid items, unit prices and quantities, a copy of Sower’s Construction’s full bid package, and a copy of the meeting minutes from the board meeting on June 21 where the award for the project was discussed.


“Ultimately our intent in writing this letter is to question the Authority’s decision to award this contract for an amount 17% higher than the low bid, without further questioning, meeting or requesting additional information from JRL,” Lynch wrote. “Based on the limited information we have received from the Authority it appears that inadequate investigation was performed given the significant cost savings that the taxpayers would have seen if JRL has been awarded the contract.”


At the conclusion of the letter, the company asked for a response for the requested information by July 3.