Seventeen contractors from six states are vying for a project to improve wastewater treatment in Le Mars.
The Le Mars City Council Thursday delayed approving a bid for the work, in part, because bids exceed estimates and a construction permit has not been issued by a state agency.
Rice Lake Construction Group, of Deerwood, Minn., is the apparent low bidder to build a new treatment facility 2 miles west of Le Mars.
The new facility will handle some of the wastewater from the city's largest industries -- Dean Foods and Wells Enterprises.
The construction project also includes improvements at the existing wastewater treatment facility in Le Mars, according to plans designed by consulting firm Bolton and Menk, of Ames.
The total amount for the apparent low bid is $18.9 million dollars.
That's approximately $2 million more than $16.9 consultant's opinion of the probable total project cost.
The Le Mars City Council Thursday accepted a recommendation from Scott Langel, city administrator, to delay awarding the bids.
Time was needed to determine what happened to cause the bid total to be more than the probable costs, he explained.
The city administrator also told the council there were quite a number of bids and the bids were "in a fairly tight" range.
"That's pretty indicative the contractors that did bid it looked up the plans and specifications as at least similar and not with a lot of unknowns," Langel said.
The city is given 30 days to consider the bids opened Dec. 20, he added.
The prices need to be honored by contractors until Jan. 19.
Council members were told by Langel the city hopes to have a construction permit for the work by Monday (Dec. 31).
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources issues those permits, he said.
Wells and Dean Foods are expected to give approval to a contract to pay for the new industrial treatment facility.
The city's consulting attorney for the project is also reviewing the agreement between the city and industries, Langel said.
A meeting with Wells is planned just after the New Year, the city administrator said.
Locally Dean Foods has reviewed a proposed contract with the city and sent the paperwork to its headquarters in Dallas, Texas.
A response from the milk processor was expected to be provided to the city Friday (Dec. 28), Langel said.
Getting the approval of the two large industrial wastewater treatment customers before spending their money was needed, councilman Rex Knapp said at the Le Mars City Council meeting Thursday
"We're not going to award the project before the people that are going to pay the bill say 'OK,'" Knapp said.
He had independently researched the Minnesota firm, the apparent low bidder for the wastewater treatment project.
Knapp described the contractor as a very large company with numerous projects
"Last year, Rice Lake Construction Group was in the ranks of $500 million in sales so they can obviously handle the project and it seems to be a very good outfit," he said.
The council could consider the wastewater treatment improvements and new facility at the next regular meeting at noon Tuesday, Jan. 8 or at a special meeting Jan. 15, Langel said.