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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, May 21, 2019 3 weeks ago

Ormond Beach awards half-million dollar bid to sole bidder for HVAC improvements

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Also, Commissioner Susan Persis wants to ban plastic straws.
by: Jarleene Almenas News Editor

Air conditioning systems at three city facilities will be upgraded as part of a half-million-dollar HVAC project, approved by the City Commission in a consent agenda item at the commission's meeting on Tuesday, May 21.

This has been in the works since 2013, according to a city document. The HVAC systems at city hall, the South Ormond Neighborhood Center and The Casements were flagged for replacement and upgrades during an assessment report that year, and two phases of the project — which included replacements of parts of the HVAC at city hall — have already been completed. The $510,433 bid for the third phase was awarded to the sole bidder: Air Mechanical and Service Corp., of Casselberry.

While City Commissioner Dwight Selby did not pull the bid award from the consent agenda, he did comment on the issue after the unanimous vote to approve all items in the consent agenda.

“My concern was we only had one bidder," Selby said.

He said about five companies downloaded the package through the internet-bidding service company the city utilizes, Onvia Inc. (formerly Demandstar), but only Air Mechanical and Service Corp. responded. This was the city's second attempt at bidding out the project, he said. Though he was concerned about relying on a single bid for the project, Selby said he felt staff was thorough in their duties. 

“These are things that need to be done," Selby said. "These are things that’ll save money and make the city facilities operate more efficiently, and it’s also an indication of the times — that construction is so good that people aren’t bidding on a half-million dollar job.”

The scope of the work in The Casements had to be reduced during the bidding process as well, the city document shows. Air Mechanical and Service Corp.'s initial bid was $594,132, which was significantly over the city's $465,000 budget. While the current bid is still over budget, the city decided to go ahead with the project because work at city hall and the South Ormond Neighborhood Center was delayed last year due to a bidder not honoring his initial low project cost; the city document states the contractor omitted a cost related to the controls. 

City Manager Joyce Shanahan said in an email that three bidders responded to the item last year, but all bids were over budget so the city rejected them. Before bidding this project, she said three general contractors attended a meeting and expressed concern about the work needed at The Casements, and the lack of room available to perform it.

"This may have deterred some potential bidders," Shanahan said. "In addition, our consultant has stated that commercial work has increased dramatically affecting availability of contractors for new work."

The HVAC replacements will be funded with $260,000 from the city's Capital Improvement Program, $205,000 from its renewal and replacement funds and $45,433 from the facilities renewal and replacement fund reserves to cover the over-budget balance. 

Persis wants plastic straw ban

City Commissioner Susan Persis is hoping Ormond Beach will join the 10 or so other cities in the state that have banned plastic straws, a motion tailing Gov. Ron DeSantis' veto of a bill that would prevent cities from doing this. 

“Straws are a small place to start, but this brings attention to conversations about waste management and pollution," Persis said. 

Holding up a packet of multi-colored silicone straws, Persis said citizens have other straw choices available to them if the city bans plastic ones. She listed metal, paper, glass and bamboo as options. 

Persis asked City Attorney Randy Hayes to draft up an ordinance for the commission to discuss and vote on at a later date.

This story was updated at 9:37 a.m. to include City Manager Joyce Shanahan's comments on the HVAC bidding item. 

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