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Columbia County might lose money on Springlakes project

Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 3:26 PM
Last updated Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 12:31 AM
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Columbia County officials have been told to “get in line” to get money from First Sealord Surety, the bonding company for Jeffery Harriss Trucking Co.

Despite warnings from officials, the county commission accepted Harriss’ $814,000 bid in May to replace culverts on Sandalwood Drive in the Springlakes neighborhood.

With only about half the work done as a November deadline approached, Water Utility Director Bill Clayton sent Harriss a notice of termination to halt work on the project.

After pulling Harriss off the drainage project, the county “called” the bond to claim the money to complete the work.

The bonding company has since dropped to a C-minus rating from an A-plus.

A First Sealord Surety representative said the county could have to argue its claim in court, along with others expecting bond money, County Administrator Scott Johnson said Friday.

The county now must rebid the project, Johnson said. That will probably take place within the next two weeks.

“No matter who pays for it, we’ve got to get the job done,” Johnson said. “We owe it (to the residents of Springlakes) to get it done.”

Johnson said completing the job is expected to cost $200,000 to $300,000.

Reluctant to subvert the bidding process, the commission initially chose Harriss because his bid was about $200,000 cheaper than the next lowest bidder.

Though some county officials warned against giving the bid to Harriss, saying he received poor reviews from companies with which he previously worked, Johnson said he was questioned closely at the time the commission awarded him the low bid.

“You’ve got a low bidder who’s qualified with a bond,” he said. “What do you do?”

As for Harriss, “He won’t be doing any more work for us,” Johnson said.

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David Parker
7923
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David Parker 02/10/12 - 05:09 pm
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danged if you do and danged

danged if you do and danged if you don't kinda

MartinezCitizen
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MartinezCitizen 02/10/12 - 05:50 pm
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Are they saying that they

Are they saying that they paid Harris Trucking for the entire job before it was done? That would be quite ignorant. That would be the only way they would be losing money and need to call in the bond. If they only paid Harris for the work that was done, then just get another contractor to pick up where Harris left off...no need to call in the bond and no money lost.

raul
4548
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raul 02/10/12 - 05:54 pm
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@MartinezCitizen. I agree.

@MartinezCitizen. I agree. Maybe Mr. Fetter, the author of this article could provide an answer.

pointstoponder
161
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pointstoponder 02/10/12 - 06:16 pm
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@MartinezCitizen, the second

@MartinezCitizen, the second bid was $200,000 more than Harriss. If Harriss was paid only for the work in place, if there is no bond, the next bidder would cost more to do the work. That is a problem when you look a just the low number. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

trimmy
29
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trimmy 02/10/12 - 06:18 pm
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Yeah, how about a more
Unpublished

Yeah, how about a more complete report. Columbia County citizens would like to know how much of their tax money was squandered away. THEY RECEIVED A WARNING ALSO. Seems like the good ol' boy system was in effect. What? Not here!

my.voice
4725
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my.voice 02/10/12 - 07:04 pm
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The issue here is the

The issue here is the commission was warned NOT to award this to JHT but did so anyway. The low bid does not have to be the selected candidate, provided there is reason behind the decision.

Bear - Lillian Smith
65
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Bear - Lillian Smith 02/10/12 - 09:46 pm
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There is a reason why

There is a reason why employers ask for resumes, actually check past employment history and factor that into hiring decisions. Just because an applicate may have graduated from Harvard doesn't mean they're annointed.

Really no different with a contractor responding to an RFP! Just because he was the low bidder and bonded, "obviously" doesn't mean he was the better choice.

The HUGE red flag should have been the $200,000 gap between bidders. Hellllllloooo?

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