An otherwise-uneventful Liberty County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday night became a little heated when county engineer Trent Long presented an action item to award a road-improvement contract.
The commission raised concerns with awarding the bid over the company’s compliance with the county’s revised Minority/Woman Business Enterprise policy.
Long said the company he was referring for the contract was one the county had worked with before and been satisfied with. He told board members the bid was a little higher than he had hoped for, so they looked at some activities that could be reduced without harming the project’s integrity. That brought the bid down from about $109,000 to under $98,000, he said.
He later told the Courier the same contractor completed a similar road improvement project in December 2013, but that was before the county revised its M/WBE policy. He said the contractor met the requirements for female employees or subcontractors, but did not meet the policy for minority participation.
“So what you’re saying is, he doesn’t comply with the policy,” District 5 Commissioner Gary Gilliard said.
Long said the policy allows a contractor to make a good-faith effort to comply by subcontracting with minority contractors.
County Administrator Joey Brown said it was the first time the board has been asked to deviate from its new policy District 1 Commissioner Marion Stevens and District 2 Commissioner Justin Frasier expressed concern about any deviation.
District 6 Commissioner Eddie Walden asked if only one contractor bid on the road-improvement project at the Villages of Limerick. Long said three companies responded to the bid package, but only one contractor showed up the day the bids were opened.
He said that overall, it’s not difficult to comply with the M/WBE policy. However, for smaller construction projects like this one, it is difficult because few contractors in this area do these smaller jobs. He said the general contractor, who normally would do all the work with their own equipment and personnel, has to subcontract out some of the work to a minority-owned business. There are few minority-owned road construction contractors in this area, he said.
“If he’s made a good-faith effort to meet the policy, then I can agree with it,” Gilliard said. “I’m making a recommendation that he make an effort to meet the policy. I want to know what a good-faith effort looks like. We need to comply with this policy. If he can get by without doing it this time, next time he’ll do it again.”
Board members and Chairman Donald Lovette agreed to hold off awarding the contract until the contractor proved he had made a good-faith effort.
In other business Tuesday, the board approved a request by the Liberty County Development Authority to use its revolving-loan funds to provide up to $50,000 to support corridor enhancement at Interstate 95 exit 76. P.C. Simonton & Associates engineer Marcus Sack told the board the need for corridor enhancement evolved from a proposal to build a convenience store and McDonald’s at the site.
However, the Georgia Department of Transportation requires the entire 1,800-foot corridor be modified to accommodate turning lanes to that site and future sites along it.
Sack said the project, which is estimated to cost $150,000, will make one of the two eastbound lanes on Highway 84 into a turning lane and a deceleration lane for right turns onto I-95. He said everything on the north side and westbound lanes of Highway 84 will remain the same.
District 1 Commissioner Marion Stevens said the project has to be done to prepare for growth at that intersection. He supports not only approval of the LCDA’s request to use its RLF to help pay for the project, but also the county paying $50,000 toward completion. Midway also is contributing $50,000.
The commissioners approved the final plat for the Villages at Limerick, the rezoning of 3.97 acres and the concept for Flemington land use, which was presented by Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission Director Jeff Ricketson. They also approved a request by Liberty County Director of Licensing and Permitting Paul Zechman to approve road improvements at the Village of Limerick for county maintenance.