BY VERONICA COONS
HOISINGTON — City Council members thought twice about following the recommendation of city staff and picked a “more local” contractor to build a new steel building following the demolition of one similar after it was severely damaged during the pre-Labor Day storm.
Hoisington City Manager Jonathan Mitchell presented background. The former Sprint building was located adjacent to the Hoisington Power Plant. A windstorm that blew down limbs throughout the city a day before the annual Labor Day weekend festivities were to begin caused irreparable damage to the aging structure. City crews demolished the building, and began seeking bids for a new structure.
Bids from three contractors were submitted by 5 p.m. the prior Thursday for a 40-foot by 80-foot steel structure. The apparent low-bidder was Steel Builders Construction of Great Bend with a bid of $94,050. The other two bids received were from Christian Specialties for $97,200, and Scott Christian Construction for $106,644. At Monday’s city council meeting, the staff recommendation was to move forward with the Steel Builders Construction bid.
Steel Builders has a Great Bend address on file, Mitchell answered an inquiry from Travis Sinn, Ward 1. He noted only one bidder, Scott Christians Construction, was located within the city limits, and so as eligible for consideration up to 10% more than the apparent low bidder. However, the bid exceeded that amount, as well as the $100,000 ceiling the city wished to stay under in order to avoid having to buy the required public works bond, for a public project of that size, Mitchell said.
Christians Specialties, he reasoned, was located outside the city limits, so was not automatically considered a local contractor. For that reason, he didn’t consider the company eligible for the 10% allowance.
Darren Reinert, Ward 2, stated Christians Specialties was a local contractor.
“It depends on how you define local,” Mitchell said. “They are not located in the city limits of Hoisington, and they do not pay property taxes, and according to our policy concerning local contractors, they do not meet that definition.”
But, he added, the contractor has done a lot of work in the city.
“To me, that should be more local than Steel Builders should be,” Reinert said.
“It is up to you,” Mitchell told council members.
Noting that there was just over $3,000 difference in bids, he argued that owner Ray Christians, who was present at the meeting, was far more likely to regularly conduct business in Hoisington than Steel Builders would. Other council members agreed.
“They say shop local,” Gary Shook, Ward 1 said. “I’m for shopping local.”
Reinert followed up, asking how long each of the contractors estimated it would take to complete the project. Mitchell said Scott Christian had indicated it would be at least six months before construction could begin. Steel Builders would be able to start in two months, and Randy Christians, who was at the meeting, stated it takes eight weeks to order materials and get started.
Randy Christians took part in the council’s discussion concerning the specifications of the building and color options available. Finally, the council voted unanimously to accept the bid from Christians Specialties Buildings.
Meeting at a glance
Here’s what happened at the Hoisington City Council meeting Monday night:
• Accepted a bid from Christians Specialties Construction for $97,200 to build a steel building near the Hoisington power plant to replace one destroyed in a pre-Labor Day storm.
• Discussed community cleanup efforts and updates. This week is the city’s annual cleanup week, and the city is offering a cash prize of $100 that will be awarded to the most significant cleanup project. Participants can self-nominate at the City Office.
• Heard a staff report from the city manager, which included updates on a variety of city projects. A lengthy discussion concerning the public swimming pool at Bicentennial Park and needed repairs to the pool resulted in the staff determining a visit with a pool professional would be beneficial.