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Hernando can't afford sole bid to dredge channel, consultant says

BROOKSVILLE — A consultant has told Hernando County officials they cannot afford the single bid they have received to dredge the Hernando Beach Channel.

Adding the $8.8 million bid to other outstanding costs the county will owe on the project could cost between $10.2 million and $12.2 million, she wrote. The county, she pointed out, has only $4.26 million left to do the project.

In either case, "neither the best- nor worst-case funding estimates are a prudent use of the county's limited funds," Lisa Hammond wrote in a memo to Karen Nicolai, Hernando County's clerk of the circuit court.

Instead, the county should ask state regulators to let it use a previous permit, which would allow for a cheaper dredging method. If that is allowed, the county should put the project out to bid again or negotiate with a firm that could accomplish that alternative, Hammond wrote.

She notes a method that could cut the cost of landfill tipping fees, which would be needed if a company is required to use chemicals on the dredged materials. A Tavares firm called Clean to Green Inc. has recommended such a process.

At last week's bid opening, only Tampa-based BCPeabody submitted a bid. Robert Carpenter of BCPeabody said Monday that using a previous dredging permit for a cheaper process will not accomplish the water clarity required by law.

Hammond's memo also criticized the county's bidding process. She said that after other companies had gathered for a prebid meeting, the county later added a provision to pay the winning contractor an incentive for using less chemical additive. This addition created "a possible inequity between potential bidders," she wrote.

"Furthermore, to my knowledge, the incentive was not discussed nor approved by the board of commissioners, which is a violation of purchasing policies and procedures," Hammond wrote.

Commissioners are expected to get an update on the project today.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando can't afford sole bid to dredge channel, consultant says 01/10/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 10, 2011 10:58pm]
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