By Joel Phelps
One director hesitantly approved a change order for the purchase of a Sanitation Department ejection trailer that ferries solid waste from Arkadelphia to the Saline County landfill.
Spector Trailer, the Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of the equipment, requested an additional $4,600 after the board approved to spend $81,900 in January. Brinkley, caught in the middle as the bearer of this news, relayed that metal prices have since increased due to COVID and a strike at the plant. Brinkley said the additional cost was an “amount we can live with.”
Ward 3 Director Keith Crews took issue with the manufacturer for asking for more money. “Where are you people at in my world?” he asked, raising his voice. “I’m not allowed to change prices once I’ve got a contract.” When asked by Crews, Brinkley confirmed that the city was in a contract with Spector and there was no clause “for them to come back and ask for more money.” This detail seemed to irritate Crews.
“If I was the city attorney I would sue their ass,” Crews said. “I’m sorry: I’m not trying to be mean or crass or whatever, but this is a contract! I would love to be able to do my business and say, ‘I’m sorry … prices went up. They’ve gone up for me every single week of this year.”
Crews cautioned the board and administration that, “if we allow this to happen with this contractor, from this point on” more will follow suit.
Ward 4 Director Reo Cummings asked Brinkley of his reaction when he heard the news about the increase. Brinkley said he didn’t agree with it. Cummings agreed with Crews. “A bid is a bid,” Cummings said.
Assistant Mayor Roland Gosey asked if the amount would change again before the city got the trailer. Brinkley said it wouldn’t.
Crews spoke again, saying his question to Spector was how they would react if the city wrote a check for $5,000 less than the agreed amount, “because our costs have gone up everywhere else” due to fuel and labor. “My question to them is if you can change the rules, why can’t we?”
Gosey asked if the purchase of the trailer was dire. Brinkley said the sanitation department is down to two trailers, and at one point waste was being stacked outside of a trailer because of the equipment shortage. “It’s critical we get this,” Brinkley said. “We’re in an OK spot right now but we’re one plunger away” from being in another dire condition.
Directors unanimously approved the change order.
The board unanimously passed an ordinance rezoning 346 N. 10th St. from multi-family residential to an educational district. Ouachita Baptist University is slated to erect student housing on the property.
Directors voted to accept two right-of-way acquisitions from the Arkansas Department of Transportation. The first tract, located on the southern edge of the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, will be sold for $9,350. Those funds will be dedicated to future development of that park. The second tract, located on the northern edge of Suddenlink’s parking lot, will be sold for $1,725. That money will land in the city’s General Fund.
The board also approved a $2,330 change order for water pressure pump switches, as well as a 1.5-acre land purchase for a Gum Springs maintenance facility. The Clark County Industrial Council is providing the $10,000 property to the city at no cost; however, the city will paying title closing costs.
City Manager Gary Brinkley updated directors on a drainage mitigation project at Caddo and North 27th streets. Brinkley told the board a drainage system near the new Heartland Pharmacy is collapsing, and that bidding on that project will be scheduled “in the near future.” He informed the board the work must be completed by Oct. 2022 to fall within the guidelines of a grant that will cover 75 percent of the $300,000 project.
Brinkley reminded directors that funding improvement projects like this one are in line with the Move Arkadelphia Forward tax initiative. “This is one of the things we promised the folks when we passed the tax,” he said. “if we were able to pass the initiative we would add cash to these types of grants.”
Directors rejected the only two bids that were offered to the city on Tuesday morning regarding rehabilitation to a portion of Feaster Trail. Brinkley said engineers’ bids — the lowest of which was $250,000 — have been high on most projects of late. “It’s common right now because there’s so much work available that everyone’s having difficulties with getting to projects,” he said.
There was discussion about whether the bids would be within budget. Brinkley said “we could make those numbers work, but in my mind … it’s really hard for me to spend extra” when the marketplace could improve.
The area that was to be improved is between North 26th Street and Baptist Health Medical Center-Arkadelphia. Brinkley said the issue with that portion of the trail is the base layer of surface, and the drainage there was “never properly addressed. We need to fix the problem before we invest the money.”
Henry Wilson, who was on the agenda to speak to the board about a property, did not show up at the meeting.
Categories: City & County
I agree with Crews. A bid is a bid and should be honored regardless. They should have considered the possibility of costs increasing when the bid was submitted.