A local contractor has cried foul over the city of Medford's proposed selection of Adroit Construction Co. of Ashland to build three new fire stations despite charging the highest fees.
Tom Hall, president of S&B James Construction Management Co. of White City, said there are numerous irregularities in the proposal process that appear to give Adroit an unfair edge in the almost $9 million construction contract.
Adroit officials say the city selected a contractor fairly and impartially. They pointed out Adroit lost the bid to build the new police headquarters to JE Dunn Construction of Kansas City, Mo.
The Medford City Council is scheduled to select a contractor for the fire stations based on the recommendation of a five-member panel at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St.
A Medford law firm representing S&B James, Foster Denman LLP, has filed a protest with the city over the proposal process and will speak to the council.
The city selects a contractor based on the best overall experience, approach and understanding of the project. Fees charged by contractors are ranked low on the city's rating system.
Hall said S&B James' fees for the construction contract add up to $886,700, compared to Adroit's $1,134,300.
"We beat Adroit by about $250,000," he said. "For a quarter-million dollars, I don't think this is sour grapes."
Batzer had the second highest bid at $1,057,660. Vitus Construction Co. had the lowest at $547,030, but left out a crucial amount in its list of fees.
The city used a points system to assess each contractor and listed seven different criteria.
Out of a maximum 100 points, Adroit received 85.7, S&B James got 83.4, Vitus received 70.4 and Batzer got 69.4.
Hall said his firm received seven out of 10 points for fees. Vitus also received seven points but failed to include general contractor costs.
Batzer included all the fees, but failed to calculate percentages. As a result, Batzer received zero points for fees.
Adroit received a score of 5.5 points for fees.
"I don't think these calculations were done in the citizens' best interest," Hall said.
He figures he should have received a much higher score than Vitus because his company listed all the required fees and percentages. If S&B James had received a higher score for its fees and Adroit a lower score, Hall said his company would have come out on top.
Last year, the City Council criticized a similar bidding process over an evidence control center for the police department.
When the project was sent out for a new bid, the council required fees to receive the highest number of points.
Hall said he wonders why the city didn't require a higher number of points for fees on the fire station contract. Types of experience in such projects weighed more heavily in the bids, netting a firm a possible 15 or 20 points in each of three categories.
Hall said Adroit also failed to list the percentage of time its key personnel would devote to the project as required in the proposal.
Councilor Bob Strosser said he wouldn't make any comments on the proposed construction contract until the City Council discusses the issue at its Thursday meeting.
Bob Mayers, co-owner of Adroit, said his company lost another proposal for the new Medford police headquarters to J.E. Dunn, but he's not complaining.
"We came up short on one, but we came up good on the other," he said.
The city had pre-proposal meetings and asked the contractors whether they had any questions about the scoring and points. Mayers said the city was thorough and fair in its approach, and he didn't hear anyone complaining at the time about the scoring system.
The five-member panel that made its recommendation conducted an impartial review, Mayers said.
Because the proposals were complicated, most of the contractors neglected to fill out every last detail, so the city provided additional time to follow up, he said.
The type of bidding process the city undertook is now very common and seeks to find the most experienced contractor to undertake a project within a given budget, Mayers said.
The city essentially hires a contractor to manage a project and guarantee to bring it in on budget or less. In this case, the construction budget is just under $9 million. The total cost for the project, including engineering and other fees, is $10.6 million.
Adroit's attorney, Scwabe, Williamson and Wyatt of Portland, also filed a letter with the city challenging the claims made by S&B James.
In this type of project, the experience of a construction firm weighs heavily in determining which contractor to pick, Mayers said.
"Nobody has built more fire stations in this valley than Adroit," he said.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.