The Bryan County Board of Commissioners will again be taking bids for the new 29,000 square foot county administration building and plan for the bidding to be back out by the end of December.
The Board unanimously voted in its Nov. 4 meeting to reject all bids because the cost came in much higher than expected.
"We hope for it to be back out for bidding by the end of December and anticipate opening them at some date in late January," County Administrator Phil Jones said.
Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said they need to go back to the drawing board on the options they originally considered for the building.
"The architects and engineer will take another look at the specs to see what can be changed to bring the cost down," Burnsed said.
The County budgeted approximately $4 million in SPLOT funds for the project to be located at the Hwy. 144 spur in Richmond Hill, but the lowest bid, by Choate Construction, came in around $5.2 million.
"We felt like it was a good market to put the bids out in, but they came in a good bit higher than we anticipated," Burnsed said.
Jones said the low bidding contractor felt it would be a disadvantage if the bids were rejected.
"The consensus from contractor is that competitive advantage would be lost by rejecting the bids and allowing reopening," Jones said.
Choate Construction Vice President of Savannah Operations Todd Osborne expressed concern at the outright rejection of the bid.
"The normal course of business would be to award to the lowest bidder then examine the options to reduce costs that would get the project closer to budget," Osborne said.
Burnsed said the dollar amounts of the bids caught the commission by surprise, and as such, felt the county’s bid request should be re-examined.
"I think we have to look at it again from the standpoint that it is taxpayer dollars, not private enterprise where we can sit around and make those kinds of decisions," Burnsed said.
Commissioner Rick Gardner said he felt the group of people who bid on the complex was extremely high quality and was pleased with them overall.
"The unfortunate aspect, as the chairman pointed out, is that [the low bid] really is so far over budget that we need to go back and look at what we requested. I hope Choate Construction will consider re-bidding," Gardner said.
Osborne indicated they would make another attempt for the project.
"We intend to go after it again," he said.
According to Burnsed and Jones the building is needed to eliminate the amount currently being paid for rent on the south end and to consolidate all services into one building, including DFCS and health department.