City gives $4.2 million contract to top bidder among 4 companies Contractors will be able to rebid in eight months

November 12, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Baltimore officials awarded a $4.2 million heating and plumbing contract for building repairs to the highest bidder yesterday, then promised to rebid the contract in eight months.

The Board of Estimates approved the contract for G. E. Tignall & Co. of Baltimore. Tignall was the highest bidder among four companies applying for the three-year contract.

The Tignall bid was $700,000 more than that of the lowest bidder, Temp Air Inc. of Baltimore, and $500,000 higher than that of the runner-up, Madison Mechanical Inc. of Baltimore. The other bidders were disqualified for failing to meet various provisions of city contracting laws.

The city terminated its previous heating and plumbing contract this year with Temp Air after an independent review found that the Reisterstown Road company overcharged the city at least $143,000 for work performed.

The company denies the allegation, saying that city supervisors approved the work and billing.

The city excluded Temp Air because of the past problems. Madison Mechanical was disqualified for failing to meet the city's Women's Business Enterprise requirement that 3 percent of each contract be assigned to a company owned by a woman.

Attorneys for the disqualified companies protested the Tignall award, complaining that the bidding violations were minor compared with an opportunity for the city to save up to $700,000.

Referring to the Temp Air problems, city Purchasing Agent John Miller told the board that securing a contractor was critical with winter coming and possible boiler troubles on the horizon. ZTC "We're not looking at low bids," Miller said. "We're looking at best value."

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke recommended the award to Tignall temporarily, while the city devises a way to use several contractors.

The city will ask the companies to rebid on the contract during the next fiscal year, after June 30.

In other action, the board increased the payment of drug prescriptions for about 25,000 retired city workers by $1. The increase from $3 to $4 was necessary, Schmoke said, because of rising use and increased costs of prescriptions. The fee will rise to $5 in July.

Because doctors are relying more on medication than hospital care, the cost of prescriptions exceeds in-hospital costs for retirees by $1 million, Schmoke said. City fire, police and employees unions protested the increase.

Pub Date: 11/12/98

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