Contract dispute delays $12 million Flint lawn and sidewalk restoration

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FLINT (WJRT) (07/02/2019) - Plans to begin repairing thousands of lawns damaged during Flint's pipe replacement program have been placed on hold.

One week after the Flint City Council unanimously approved a $12 million bid from Goyette Mechanical, the city wants to rescind it in favor of offering a $10 million contract to W.T. Stevens.

The money is coming from the state and WIIN funding.

Residents who were expecting restoration work on their yards to get underway shortly are in for another delay.

"I'm extremely frustrated, because it was September when mine was replaced," said Bryant Nolden.

The Flint resident is not alone in his frustration over torn up lawns, sidewalks and streets in the wake of the city's pipe replacement program.

On Tuesday, the City of Flint sent a letter to Goyette Mechanical informing them the state had discovered a discrepancy in the calculations with the project.

In the letter, purchasing manager Joyce McClane stated, "The Department of Public works mistakenly used different criteria to calculate your contract amount. The reason this occurred is because quantities in the bid package did not accurately reflect the overall scope of the project. The same criteria must be used for all bidders."

At Tuesday night's council meeting, McClane told council members that they had to "make it fair across the board for all of the contractors, with the quantities and using their unit prices."

So they ran the numbers again, using only two items this time, and determined that Goyette did not have the lowest bid. They had previously run numbers based on 11 items and determined that Goyette had come in with the lowest bid.

Flint's acting Chief Financial Officer Tamar Lewis tried to provide clarification to city council members:

"When we, DPW, picked out the items that were most likely to be used in that section of restoration, Goyette was not lowest on those items," she said.

Joe Parks, the project manager with Goyette, said this is cherry picking and that in the bid there was no mention of prioritization. He disagrees with the city's decision to rescind the award, calling it an "unfair and unethical bidding process".

"We are the low responsive bidder based on the bid documents that were issued," Parks said. "Our bid strategy was based on the units that your department issued in those documents."

"If the contract is awarded to someone else," he continued,"they will be doing so out of favoritism, not based on fair bid practices.

Goyette is threatening to sue the city if they are not awarded the contract.

Tuesday night Joyce McClane presented two resolutions to the city council. One asks them to rescind the contract offered to Goyette and the other asks them to offer a $10 million contract to W.T. Stevens.

Council members, caught off guard by this development, voted to table a vote on the two resolutions 6-2.

"Never want something this big to happen and my phone ain't rung," said Ward 1 Councilman Eric Mays.

After the vote, Ward 2 Councilwoman Eva Worthing voiced frustration over further delays.

"They're holding up this project for all these residents to get this restoration done, " Worthing said. "We had a contract for one company that has a proven track record to get it done and now they want to change it and give it to another contractor."

Nolden, in the meantime, said he just wants the work to get done.

"I just want it to get done," he said. "Whomever it is, do it."

The council plans to re-visit this issue on Monday.