Company claims competitor’s bid is bad; MCSD meets tonight

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – A local construction company is protesting the low bid submitted for McKinleyville’s multi-million-dollar sewer upgrade, claiming that its out-of-town competitor failed to submit all that was required in the process, and therefore should not receive the contract.

The McKinleyville Community Services District (MCSD) Board of Directors will consider the protest at its meeting today, Dec. 9 starting at 7 p.m. at Azalea Hall, 1620 Pickett Rd., McKinleyville,

In October, the MCSD received bids for the massive sewer plant upgrade for its facility at Hiller Park. The project will convert the sewer plant into a mechanical system that will produce cleaner sewer effluent to keep up with state-mandated standards.
The MCSD received three bids for the project. Auburn Constructors Inc., based in Auburn, submitted the lowest bid of $12,327,300. The next lowest bid was from Wahlund Construction Inc. in Eureka, which came in at $12,472,900, 1.2 percent, or $145,600 more than Auburn. The third lowest bid was from Mercer Fraser of Eureka at $15,836,000.

In November, the MCSD board awarded the contract to the low bidder, Auburn Constructors.
Wahlund Construction has since protested Auburn’s bid, claiming that it is non-responsive because it did not contain back-up documentation called for by the MCSD in the bid request. Because of this, the bid should go to Wahlund Construction, according to the company.

The MCSD, however, has consulted with its attorney, who argues that the back-up documentation is immaterial.

Staff is recommending that the protest be rejected and that the contract be awarded to Auburn.
At tonight’s meeting, the board will give the companies an opportunity to make their arguments and then will decide the issue.

Also at tonight’s meeting, the directors Helen Edwards and John Corbett will be sworn in for another four years in office. The directors were up for election in November. Both signed up to run, but there were no opponents, so they retained their seats.

The board is scheduled to select its officers and make committee appointments.

For 2015, Corbett served as the board president, while George Wheeler served as the vice president.

The MCSD now rotates its board officers. For 2016, Wheeler is scheduled to be the president, and Edwards the vice president.


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  1. 2016 Draft Options. said:

    If MCSD staff uses an automated billing system for monthly billings of water use per account where the rate is fixed based upon the most previous rate increase, then how does an automated computer system stop charging a fixed rate already programmed into the automated computer system that generates automated bills on a monthly basis?

    If any accused trolls have a thought to explain a response, you will not be called a troll by this accused troll.

  2. 2016 Draft Options. said:

    Oh boy,

    The troll defense, yikes.

    Too bad this accused troll seeks information and is denied.

    The accused shall move along, bye bye.

  3. 2016 Draft Options. said:

    Thanks for the suggestion, but if it is too hard or burdensome for the editor (you), then it is understandable why you can’t explain yourself or produce the information accurately.

    Slap in the face, ouch.

  4. Jack Durham said:

    2016 Draft Options wrote: “Curious though, are you suggesting that the MCSD raised rates at the board level and staff forgot to apply the new rate structure?”

    Jack responds: If I understand your question correctly, the answer is no.

    2016 Draft Options wrote: “Please post that rate increase and date that occurred prior to the consultant discovering the MCSD was shortfalling itself. If you have a link to the original article for review, please post that too.”

    Jack responds: You can Google “McKinleyville Press” and “water rates” and “MCSD” and you may be able to find this stuff if you are really interested. You might want to poke around the MCSD website too. Good luck.

  5. 2016 Draft Options. said:

    Thank You for proving the Board, Orsini and staff plus consultant all did not know water costs money.

    Where it was inaccurate was to not include the consultant, but since the elected officials and staff did not do their diligent research, analyses and homework, the rates were increased on All MCSD account holders.

    Curious though, are you suggesting that the MCSD raised rates at the board level and staff forgot to apply the new rate structure?

    Please post that rate increase and date that occurred prior to the consultant discovering the MCSD was shortfalling itself. If you have a link to the original article for review, please post that too.

  6. Jack Durham said:

    In a nutshell, this is what the McKinleyville Press reported: The consultant screwed up. Water customers were being mistakenly under-charged. That meant water revenues were less than anticipated. After the mistake was discovered, water rates went up to the amount needed to reach the MCSD revenue targets and to cover the amount not previously collected.

  7. 2016 Draft Options. said:

    OK, what is the repayment plan? Was it a lump some or leveraged over a determined time range?

    Basically, your original article on this mistake is different in explanation than as you ascribe to now.

    So, which is accurate, then or now?

  8. Jack Durham said:

    I don’t think you understand what happened with the water bills that you speak of. The MCSD basically should have charged the customers more money, but actually undercharged the customers. So the customers were essentially getting an unintended discount on their water bills. After the mistake was discovered, bills raised to cover the correct costs, as well as to make up for what was not collected.

    In the end, the customers will pay the same. There is no “missing” money or lost funds.

  9. 2016 Draft Options. said:

    Yes, because the value is “what is best for the local community”, not some imports from a different geographical region.

  10. 2016 Draft Options. said:

    If “immaterial is a condition to qualify for bid”, then what?

    The MCSD has hired too many paper pushers and not enough analysts.

    $500,000.00 is owed to the MCSD by five active or former directors, Greg Orsini and certain staff for failing to recognize the cost of purchasing water from HBMWD 2 years ago that could have been spent on this project.

    Weinerholm (a doctor), Mayo (a rancher), Corbett (an attorney at law), Couch (a city of Arcata employee) and Edwards (a financial CPA)

    A diverse bunch for sure who did not know water costs money.

  11. RT said:

    So let me get this straight, the MCSD requests back-up documentation as part of the bid package and the low bidder fails to fulfill the bid package requirements, but gets the job anyway? Then when a protest is raised the MCSD’s attorney states the documentation was immaterial? In my line of work, I have submitted numerous proposals to state and federal agencies and if you fail to follow the bid package instructions, your proposal usually gets tossed. It seems Auburn failed to follow instructions. I also question why the MCSD failed to select the local contractor when their bid was a measly 1.2% more than Auburn’s……how much of Auburn’s costs are allocated to housing and feeding out-of-the-area employees, as well as employee mileage costs, to and from Auburn? IMO, the MCSD failed to consider the value of hiring local contractors.

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