Berne senior center roof question settled

    Quotes from two of five contractors selected by Berne City Council to take part in the bidding process for a roof replacement project at the South Adams Senior Center have been deemed "non-responsive" and will not be accepted.
    Meeting in special session at 7 a.m. Thursday, city council members sided with a legal opinion offered by City Attorney Jim Beitler that quotes from Amstutz Construction and Marquis Builders should not be accepted after representatives from those two companies failed to attend a mandatory meeting for prospective bidders last month.
    Five area contractors were selected in August by the city council to submit sealed quotes for the roof project. In addition to Amstutz and Maquis Builders, the council selected T.M.E., Joe H. Schwartz and Limberlost Construction as prospective bidders.
    Included in the quote packages furnished to those five firms, Beitler said during Thursday morning's special meeting, was a letter explaining that attendance by the companies' owners or representatives at an Aug. 31 pre-quote meeting was mandatory. The Amstutz and Marquis firms failed to have representatives at that meeting.
    "We are required to award the contract to the lowest responsive and responsible quoter," Beitler told members of the Berne Board of Public Works and Safety during a brief meeting that preceded Thursday's special council session. "In my legal opinion, because the letter to bidders stated that they were required — a mandatory statement — to have a representative in attendance at the pre-quote meeting, I believe those quotes are not responsive."
    The attorney cited existing Indiana case law in offering his legal opinion and said the city "could face a legal challenge" if the quote is awarded to a non-responsive bidder.
    Beitler said the options available to the council were to accept the three responsive quotes for the roof project or to "reject all quotes and start the process over, and I'm not sure that (second option) is fair."
    Mark Wynn, owner of Marquis Builders and a member of Berne City Council, spoke briefly at the Board of Public Works meeting to say he supported whatever action the board and the city council deemed appropriate.
    "I 100 percent did not catch that the meeting was mandatory or I probably would have been there," Wynn said. "But I do feel a little conflict of interest in bidding on a project of this magnitude, and I'm totally fine if the process goes forward without us."
    The Board of Public Works voted 3-0 — and minutes later the entire Berne City Council voted 5-0 — to proceed with three quotes for the senior center roof project. Those bids will be opened next Monday.
    The council in July approved the execution of a 10-year lease with the South Adams Seniors Inc. organization for continued operation of the city’s senior center. The lease agreement calls for the city to continue to lease the structure at 825 Hendricks Street to the senior center board for $1 annually, and also calls for the seniors’ group to financially assist the city in making structural improvements at the site.
    The lease agreement came on the heels of what City Attorney Jim Beitler called a “substantial” financial contribution to city by South Adams Seniors Inc. to assist in a roof repair project that has been debated by city officials for more than a  year.
    “This agreement gives a fair amount of financial relief to the city, as it pertains to the senior center roof,” McKean said earlier in the process. “The seniors of our community will still have a place to meet, and the city will not be confronted with 100 percent of the costs for the upkeep of the building.”