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Council rejects storm-pond bid

It will consider lower local proposals

It's back to the drawing board after the head of a Medford engineeringcompany criticized a recent selection process that passed over his firmfor a project.

The Medford City Council Thursday voted 5-2 against awarding a contractto KCM Inc., a Portland engineering firm. Instead, three council memberswill review the qualifications of companies that submitted proposals forthe job.

John Hardey, president of Hardey Engineering & Associates, complainedlast week about the city committee's selection of KCM over lower bids bythree local companies, including his own.

If the city would like to flush an extra $40,000 down the toilet,that's all right with me, but it shouldn't be with you, Hardey toldthe council Thursday.

He said the situation was just the tip of the iceberg of what wesee in dealings with the city.

Hardey contended the engineering staff leaned toward KCM before requestingproposals on the project.

The project involves engineering for a storm detention pond on Lone PineCreek. KCM's cost estimate for the project was $75,863, compared with HardeyEngineering's estimate of $43,000.

Councilman Skip Knight said he was troubled by the selection of the higher-pricedPortland firm.

It appears to me this local firm is capable of doing thiswith a savings to the city, he said.

A committee comprising Councilmen Curt Bennett and Jim Key ­ bothof northeast Medford Ward — ­ plus Walker and engineering technicianLarry Beskow reviewed the proposals and ranked the companies' expertiseto come up with three finalists.

Key and the two city employees ranked KCM first and Hardey third; Bennettranked Hardey first and KCM third. Another Medford firm, Marquess &Associates, gained three second-place votes.

Key said he chose KCM because it appeared to offer the most technicalexpertise.

Walker told the council that the project involved a request for proposals,not bids, which require the city award the project to the lowest bidder.In a request for proposals, the city looks for which firm has the most expertisefor the job, he said.

On the proposal side, you're looking at the best advice you canreasonably afford, Walker said.

But Bennett said, To say the money isn't an issue at all ­I can't deal with that.

He proposed, and the council agreed, that three council members ­one from each of the other wards ­ review the firms' qualifications.Councilmen Bill Moore and Sal Esquivel and Councilwoman Lee Ferguson wereselected.