City Hall fungus still among us

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

Chiefland city commissioners may have found a way out of a bidding contract to fix a still-festering mold problem at City Hall.

At the Jan. 14 meeting, four construction companies vying to fix the problem were ranked by staff for approval, yet commissioners declined to choose, hoping instead for more time to finagle a better deal. At Monday’s regular meeting, commissioners were presented with the same four options, though, by the end, they had unanimously agreed to both stall awarding the bid and call for a second opinion on an already-completed mold remediation plan.

“That’s just such a lot of money to put into that building …,” said Vice Mayor Teresa Barron at the prospect of having to pay about $65,000 to top-ranked bidder Dreyer’s Cleaning and Restoration, of Gainesville, to fix the problem.

Dreyer’s Cleaning and Restoration’s base bid was moderate compared to others, though the company’s price to replace mold-infested duct work, at $9.87 a linear foot, was the lowest. On the other hand, JTN Construction and Maintenance, the fourth ranked company, which had the lowest base bid, is asking for $100 a linear foot to replace ductwork. The bids do not include an estimated $6,000 needed to replace carpet. Monday, Barron asked City Attorney Norm Fugate if the bid could be broken up and awarded in pieces.

“I think the safest way is to move ahead with the recommendation of staff …” Fugate said, explaining that, while the commission was free to do as it chose, doing otherwise might give a company “traction” to issue a challenge. Overall, he said, the language of the bid contract suggests the project is to be undertaken as a whole.

Commissioner Sammy Cason, at one point, made a motion to award the bid to Dryer’s. “We need to move forward with this, “he said. “The building’s just sittin’ there.” Commissioner Frank Buie seconded the motion, though it was later killed in a 3-2 vote.

Barron said she’d like to see the city “ lower the scope of work or something …,” spurring comments on que from interested parties in the audience.

Mike Williams, of All American Cleaning and Restoration, a mold remediation subcontractor for second-ranked bidder J&L Construction, of Chiefland, told the commission that the mold remediation protocol was “way over the top “ and should be redone. He said the person who put it together tends to “write a lot.”

Mayor Teal Pomeroy, who earlier said his preference was for local companies such as J&L Construction, said he saw the contractor’s point and asked if the commission felt like the current 80-plus-page protocol should be readdressed.

City Manager Grady Hartzog reminded the commission that the city had already spent about $7,000 for the initial protocol and that doing another would further delay a process that has been going on since September.

“What if we asked another mold guy just for a second opinion?” Barron asked.

Fugate said that having the mold remediation plan changed would allow the commission to reject the other bids, though, he added, a new plan needs to be thorough enough to hold contractors to conditions required by agencies regulating such standards as air quality.

Commissioners, acting on behalf of Barron’s motion, said they would like staff to arrange for a second opinion by another mold remediation specialist by the next meeting. The bid award was tabled.

In other matters:

*Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of accepting a $650,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The money will go toward the installation of new sewer facilities, as well as rehabilitation of older ones, in neighborhoods throughout the city. The city will also waive about $125,000 in in hookup fees for homes being upgraded.

*The city will continue to participate in the Levy County Multijurisdictional Task Force until Feb. 28 of this year. Commissioners voted 5-0 to extend the part played by the city, despite calling into question last year funding certain commissioners believed the city had not received from drug busts.

Police Chief Robert Douglas said back then that a lot of the money was tied up in the court system. Monday night, he said a portion of what the city would see in the future includes money from the sale of 90 acres of land and eight airplanes.