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‘Soft-watergate’ continues to plague county board

By Staff | Oct 27, 2008

Although they awarded a proposal for water softener equipment at a previous meeting, the topic was raised again at last Tuesday’s Faribault County commissioners meeting.

The board had approved having Garlick’s Water Conditioning of Blue Earth install the equipment in the new law enforcement center, as they submitted the lowest cost proposal.

Garlick’s had been given the softener equipment contract to sign, but as of Tuesday had not returned it.

Commissioner Tom Loveall revealed he had spoken to Garlick’s and he was unsure if they would be signing it.

“I told them if they signed it we would be holding them accountable to install equipment which would meet the specs,” Loveall says.

Other water softener companies had questioned whether Garlick’s quote had met the specs.

The board voted to give Garlick’s until the next meeting, Nov. 4, to sign the contract or not.

Commissioner Butch Erichsrud says he is uncomfortable with the whole situation and suggested a complete rebid of the equipment.

Loveall added that if they call for new quotes, he wants to see more detail in the specs.

“We never said what degree of grains of hardness we would allow,” Loveall says. “We also didn’t ask what the salt usage amount would be.”

Loveall and Commissioner Bill Groskreutz agreed to serve on a water softener committee that would meet with the dealers and the mechanical engineer to come up with better specs, should that be necessary.

Mike Kearns, construction manager of the new LEC, was at Tuesday’s meeting. He said he had studied the softener proposals.

“I qualified what appeared to be the low bid,” Kearns told the board. He suggested that any new specs be done with the help of the mechanical engineer on the project.

Kearns also told the board that they have plenty of time before the softener equipment has to be installed. It is not necessary until the center opens, he says.

Loveall added, “So far we have not spent any money on this and we have time to make it right.

As far as I am concerned, it is ‘no harm – no foul.’ It is not how we got to this point, but where we end up with it.”

Kearns had two other bid categories which the board approved.

A bid for two sets of overhead doors and a coiling shutter were awarded to Overhead Door Co., of Mankato. That cost proposal was $44,968. It was one of two bids received.

The other bid item was for sidewalks around the new building. The board awarded the bid to Precision Concrete of Winnebago. That cost proposal was $20,900, almost $10,000 less than the estimate, and $7,000 less than another bid received.

The sidewalks are expected to be completed yet this fall.

Kearns told the board that he is still working on getting quotes for the new kitchen in the jail building, and should have those ready at the next meeting.