UPDATE: Company To Protest Phoenix Construction Contract - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

UPDATE: Company To Protest Phoenix Construction Contract

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For now, it's a waiting game.

CPH/Western Summit Team has until June 17 to follow up on its letter of intent and file a formal protest of Bay County's award of a $25 million construction contract.  The protest must be accompanied by a bond equal to 1% of the contract amount – a quarter million dollar gamble that it can pry the deal away from Phoenix Construction of Lynn Haven.

CPH teamed up with Western Summit Constructors and Royal American Construction to make a play for the county's alternate water supply system.  In their notice to the county, the firms allege commissioners violated county ordinances and state law by awarding the contract to Phoenix Construction.

"Certainly, they have the right to do that and if that's what they feel like they need to do, then I'm all for them doing that," commission chairman George Gainer told News 13 in a Monday interview.

The "Notice of Intent" claims Phoenix stepped out of bounds during its June 4 presentation to the board by making guarantees that should only take place during "competitive negotiations," not during a public review of its qualifications.

"We have some commitments that we would make if we're the successful offer on this team," Ted Schoppe of Phoenix told commissioners.  The company promised no change orders once the contract is in place, $1.5 million in performance guarantees and a five year warranty.

"Some of the assurances that I heard Phoenix make were impressive and we certainly will make sure those are in the contract," Gainer told News 13 after the meeting.  CPH Western Summit cited that comment as evidence Phoenix Construction's guarantees unfairly swayed the commission.

"I can see where they might think that but I don't think that anybody there [considered] those extra guarantees to make that decision," Gainer said.

All of the competing firms used their time before the board to stress their local angle.  CPH Western Summit promised to subcontract 70% of the work to local companies and maintain an 85% mix of local craft workers, but did not tie the commitments to financial incentives as did Phoenix.

The county has budgeted $25 million for the alternate water supply project but the actual cost hasn't been nailed down.  Gainer denied suggestions that Phoenix's guarantees effectively raised the price.  "It wouldn't be much of a guarantee if you're going to price it up a million five and then get a million five," Gainer said.  "If anybody thinks those days are here, they're gone forever… and I don't think this is a bad contract."

It was Phoenix Construction's partners in the deal – Hatch Mott MacDonald, Preble-Rish Engineering and C.W. Roberts Contracting – that was the deciding factor, Gainer said.  All of them have performed well on previous county projects, he said.

"Good business has to dictate what we do," Gainer said.  "Bay County is doing business better than it's ever done before and if anybody thinks that they're going to come in here and give us a bad contract and not perform, they're wrong."

Contacted by phone, a spokesperson for Western Summit said the company had no comment beyond the notice of protest letter.  Efforts to reach the company's attorney were unsuccessful.