City questioned on bid complianceThe Associated General Contractors of North Dakota has asked Dickinson officials to provide information regarding compliance to a city code. A letter requesting information was sent to Dickinson City Administrator Shawn Kessel on April 30.
The Associated General Contractors of North Dakota has asked Dickinson officials to provide information regarding compliance to a city code. A letter requesting information was sent to Dickinson City Administrator Shawn Kessel on April 30.
AGC also requested information about a construction company the city apparently awarded projects to while it was not properly licensed.
State law stipulates public projects costing more than $100,000 must be open for competitive bidding. However, Mark Dougherty, membership services director of the AGC, found Dickinson code may stipulate bidding must take place at a lower amount.
“What I find in the code is that for contractual services — which construction would be — it calls for anything over $20,000 to be competitively bid,” Dougherty said. “I was told by a staff person at the city that there’s an exception to that, but in searching the codes, I couldn’t find that exception and I just asked (Kessel) to point that out to me.”
The city has awarded projects to contractors over $20,000, but under $100,000 without going out to bid.
“Until I get the information, if there’s an exception there, I have to believe that, but I can’t find it,” Dougherty said. “I’m not an attorney, so I might be missing something in the wording.”
Kessel believes the ordinance Dougherty referenced in the letter deals with “single sourcing” items.
“If we bought shingles and they were going to cost us $20,000, then we’d have to bid it,” Kessel said.
Dickinson City Attorney Matt Kolling agrees the matter is a misunderstanding and said officials have been following city code.
“We have been complying with it as it applies,” Kolling said. “It does apply to products the city buys or equipment that the city buys or some certain specified services.”
He said the statute does not apply to “public improvement” projects, which have a $100,000 cap on them, according to state law.
Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson said the city will deal with the matter accordingly once the code issue is clarified.
“If it’s city ordinance and if you look at the issue and you say ‘Gee, I don’t think this makes sense anymore,’ you can simply change your city ordinance,” Johnson said. “If you look at the city ordinance and you say, ‘Well it does make sense,’ and if we are out of compliance, then you make sure you come back into compliance.”
The second part of Dougherty’s letter asks for information about projects awarded to Two Rivers Construction over the last year.
“They were without a license, as far as I can find, from March 1, 2009, to April 23, 2010,” Dougherty said.
Brian Kjerstad, owner of Two Rivers Construction, confirmed the company was operating without proper licensing.
“It was an accidental oversight on my part and when it was brought to my attention I rectified it immediately,” Kjerstad said.
The city recently awarded the company a project and realized they didn’t have a license, Kessel said.
“It’s been remedied, but when they initially got the award, I do believe that their contractor’s license wasn’t appropriate for the job they were doing,” Kessel said.
Two Rivers is still working on the project, but was not allowed to begin until they were properly licensed, he added.
“It would be the contractor’s obligation to have a valid contractor’s license,” Kolling said. “Whether there’s any liability on behalf of the city, that’s something that we’re looking into to right now.”
He plans to make the information the AGC is requesting available to the public as soon as it’s compiled.