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Contract awarding questioned

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SHERRY LONG
News Editor
WAXAHACHIE - Contract bidding practices in the City of Waxahachie have come under some scrutiny recently from one contractor.

City officials said they were awarding bids as legally allowed under state law, but contractor Ken Halverson claimed the good ‘ole boy system was alive and well in the county's largest city.

Halverson, in the construction business for 18 years as owner of Ken-Do Contracting, said Waxahachie illegally awarded an $895,972 project this month to a local company to build four box hangers at the Mid-Way Regional Airport located on U.S. Highway 287.

'If this process was correct, it would promote bigger companies to come in for the bid process to build the future of Waxahachie and Midlothian,' Halverson said.

'This contract is trying to go to the good ‘ole boy crap I'm trying to stop over there.'

In 2001, changes to Texas' local government code began allowing local and county governments to use a design-build process to select a contractor based on their qualifications and experience, not bid price for the proposed job.

Under this proposal contractors could not submit a bid price with their qualifications report.

A proposed bid price could only be submitted after the construction company was selected.

Halverson said most cities award bids on a hard bid system ensuring the contract goes to the lowest priced contractor to save the taxpayers money.

Waxahachie Finance Director Carl Wessels said in 2002 the airport board decided to use the design-build process to find a contractor to build some hangers.

'It allows you to develop a relationship with the builder which gives you a better quality and more cost effective product in the long run,' he said.

Beck, a nationally renowned construction company, was selected as the most qualified contractor for the 2002 project, but Wessels said the 'airport board could not agree to a price with Beck.'

Since the Nay Company ranked second during the qualification process, they were given a chance to submit a bid, which the airport board later accepted.

Halverson said once the hangers were constructed and all contractor's bills were paid the 2002 contract should have been closed.

He contended the board should request a new round of qualifications from interested contractors for the latest hanger construction project.

Wessels said since the city had a working relationship with Nay, the law allowed them to continue using the local company.

In a letter from last month, Wessels stated the airport board would have to review and rank contractors again based on their qualifications and experience for the 2007 project.

'I reported to the board, that it had been brought to my attention two items (required by state law) were missing from the original request for proposals,' the letter stated.

Contractors had until Tuesday, Nov. 7 to submit their qualifications.

The Nay Company was selected as the most qualified contractor after airport board members met later that same evening to review the qualifications of the seven contractors seeking the job.

'The way you follow this, you don't do it by low bid,' Wessels said.

'You do it by highest quality.'

Ken-Do Contractors submitted their requirements for the job, but were ranked last.

Halverson said he was ranked low because of his persistence in making sure the bid process was handled properly.

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