Board awards bid for new roof, despite issue

GLADSTONE – The Gladstone School Board awarded the contract for a new roof on the Gladstone High School despite the possibility of an injunction on the project by the state attorney general.

The board took action at its monthly meeting Monday. A complaint about the way the project was bid was filed with the attorney general by Paul Neumeier, president of Independent Roofing & Siding Co. in Escanaba. Neumeier claims the bidding process showed favoritism, that the process of using alternatives in the bids was atypical, and the project was being awarded to a company that was not the lowest bidder.

“If he rules against (Independent Roofing & Siding), I’ll just walk away from it. If he rules in my favor and you award this project I will seek restitution, because this project has been bid twice. Both times we were the low bidder,” said Neumeier.

Roofing project bids were originally received in April, however complications including inaccurate drawings of the roof being provided to bidding companies caused the project to be rebid.

During the initial bidding process, Independent Roofing & Siding’s bid projected the use of significantly less roofing material and was disqualified by Wolgast Co., the construction management company used by the district.

“(The other bidding roofers) were able to Google Earth the actual site and take dimensions off of that. They were able to actually get up on the roof and do an inspection, despite the fact that Independent said that they could not. So we felt at that time that Independent, their bid was disqualified,” said Tim Kraft, Wolgast field manager.

As part of the bidding process, the district asked bidders to include voluntary alternates – alternative materials and options which could reduce the price of the project. All of the roofing companies that bid on the project included voluntary alternates in their bids.

“The thing is, normally in the process, you have the base bid, an alternate bid; if you have other issues you want to bring up it’s a line item. Add or deduct. It’s not a smorgasbord of throw anything you want in there. It doesn’t work that way,” said Neumeier.

The voluntary alternates were used by the district to increase cost savings, but not all of the voluntary alternates were considered acceptable.

“When we looked at the base bid and those voluntary alternates that were acceptable that changed the dollar amount. It changed who the apparent low bidder was to the actual low bidder,” said Superintendent Jay Kulbertis.

The bids received on May 14 were sealed. However, the board did not deny that Independent Roofing & Siding had the lowest base bid nor that Great Lakes Roofing’s base bid was the third lowest bid.

“Mr. Neumeier’s saying that his base bid was lower … than the company we’re recommending, Great Lakes, but the voluntary alternates did reduce it significantly – reduced it to I think $13,000 or $14,000 less,” said Board Treasurer Paul Capodilupo.

The board moved to award the contract to Great Lakes Roofing, of Sault Ste. Marie, with the option of rescinding the contract if the attorney general declares that there were issues with the way the bidding process was conducted.

“It’s not Wolgast that’s going to select the final contract. It will be the board of education. We are recommending what we feel is the low contractor and in our experience the best contractor,” said Tom Watson, Wolgast facilities director. “We aren’t saying that the other two contractors aren’t equally as able to install or do whatever.”

“We’re bringing you the best information we can to get you the best quality product we can get you for the lowest price. That’s our job,” added Watson.

If the attorney general rules that the bidding process was acceptable, the school district will spend $618,000 for Great Lakes Roofing to complete the project. The base bid from Great Lakes was $662,000.

“The reason there’s laws about the bidding process in the State of Michigan is because they don’t want favoritism and that’s what this has the appearance of,” said Neumeier.