Supervisors Seeking Input After Drainage Contract Not Awarded to Lowest Bidder

by Brian Wilson
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–The Kossuth County Board of Supervisors directed County Attorney Todd Holmes to research options for the board at their meeting Tuesday, as they review the bids received for FEMA funded repairs in Drainage District #4. The supervisors awarded the contract for the project to Reutzel Excavating on July 13th, even though they were not the lowest bidder, and that raised concerns from a pair of consultants familiar with FEMA projects. Leon Freeman consults on FEMA work across Iowa, and has been consulting with the board throughout this process. He shared his concerns with the board’s decision.

McCarty Custom Inc. of Linn Grove was the low bidder for the option selected by the supervisors ($1,322,687.50), but the vote to award them the contract last week failed 3-2, with Supervisors Stecker and Plathe supporting the motion. A vote was then taken to award the contract to the 2nd lowest bidder, Reutzel Excavating of Burt ($1,473,402.00), and that passed by a vote of 3-2 with Supervisors Loss, Casey and Tjarks supporting, citing concerns raised by the project engineer. Freeman says choosing the higher bid could result in FEMA pulling their funding for the project.

Scott Stanley serves as a Disaster Project Specialist with the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. He spoke to the board Tuesday and stated that the reasons given for awarding the contract to Reutzel’s instead of McCarty could be a problem.

Both Stanley and Freeman told the board the possibility exists for the county to lose over a million dollars in FEMA funding for the repair project. The board is asking the County Attorney to review legal options if they would make any changes after already awarding the contract.

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