By Robert Nathan
Killeen Daily Herald
Awarding the city's largest street renovation contract seemed like an ordinary procedure when first presented to the City Council last month.
The Killeen City Council faces a decision Tuesday on whether to award the project to Killeen-based Gary W. Purser Construction or Gatesville-based TTG Utilities. TTG Utilities' bid was $137,000 less than the local contractor's bid.
The street project includes more than $6.5 million in improvements to Cody Poe Road and Edgefield Street, Robinett Road and Elms Road. It is considered to be the largest street project the city has undertaken because it is a combination of projects in which each could stand alone, Public Works Director Jim Butler said. By combining the projects, he said, the city saves money.
During the Oct. 17 precouncil meeting, City Manager Connie Green said that if the council chooses to award the contract to the local firm, it will have to look at certain provisions. The council, he said, must find that the local bidder offers the city the best combination of contract price and additional economic development opportunities. This includes the employment of Killeen residents and increased tax revenues.
If Purser's firm is awarded the contract on Tuesday, he would first have to show that his company's work would generate more than $137,000 in revenue for the city.
During the Oct. 17 meeting, council members said they would need to further discuss which bid issuance would be in the best interest of the city. The decision delayed the project by two weeks, Butler said.
"It won't stop the project," Butler said. "We have enough money no matter how the City Council chooses to award the project."
Gary Purser Jr. told the council during the Oct. 17 meeting that his firm has the opportunity to meet the local requirements. He said he would need to hire additional employees and purchase additional equipment for the project. His attorney, Burk Roberts, said his client's business has a history of providing economic incentives for the city.
Killeen attorney Dan Corbin, representing the Gatesville firm, suggested the city take a closer look at the circumstances in which a city can award a bid to someone other than the lowest bidder.
City Attorney Kathy Davis said both parties will address the council on Tuesday, explaining why they feel that awarding the contract to their company would provide additional economic benefits to the city.
City officials said last week the issue simply boils down to vendor preference.
Much like Purser Construction, TTG Utilities has undertaken other projects in the greater Killeen-Fort Hood area.
"They feel they won the right to it by being the low bidder; however, the code says the city can go with a local firm," Butler said.
Butler said the city generally uses local firms whenever it can. But on some large-scale projects, such as the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport, the smaller local firms lack the capability to undertake the project.
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