Bidding process best way to get best price, fairness on signs
The road to Wadena entrance signs seems finally to be on track but not without a few more bumps to come. Last month, prompted by a generous donation from a Wadena resident and urging from citizens, the City Council voted to move forward to build ...
The road to Wadena entrance signs seems finally to be on track but not without a few more bumps to come.
Last month, prompted by a generous donation from a Wadena resident and urging from citizens, the City Council voted to move forward to build all five entrance signs.
Already, the entrance signs process is 2 years old, and Wadena is turning 125 years old this year, a perfect opportunity to spruce up the city. The council had approved the designs in May 2005, contingent on the fact that all five signs be built at once to save on the cost and be consistent in signs. That was smart too. After all, whats to say that all five would ever be built after one or two already had gone up? Remember that for years, we had entrance signs at only two entrances; now there is only one.
Throughout this whole process, only one company had been involved in developing the art-deco-style entrance signs. The city wasnt doing anything illegally; state statutes require that anything at least $50,000 be bid out. The five signs were supposed to cost a total of $33,500 total if purchased at the same time.
But a recent quote from the company, Art-N-Sign of Fergus Falls, told a different story. Now the signs are estimated to cost $46,880 total if purchased at the same time. Material costs have increased, as has labor, a representative said.
Whoa, Nellie! Thats awfully close to $50,000.
In addition, after seeing the locations where the signs most likely will be placed, the company representative recommends that the city choose larger signs than the 10-foot-tall ones approved in May. Because of the high rate of travel at the locations and the distance from the road, the signs could lose impact at 10 feet high, he said. The company said it was meeting specifications at the time. Still, you sort of have to wonder why there wasnt a recommendation before. Although the exact locations werent known, the signs were always to be placed somewhere outside of town, where higher speeds are the norm.
Nevertheless, even council members said they didnt realize how short 10 feet high truly was. Councilman Dean Uselman said that he measured several existing signs and found them to be much higher.
And as the height of the signs rise, so does the cost.
A combination of five signs ranging from 10 feet to 14 feet bumps the cost to between $54,780 and $59,092.
Although the company representative said the city could negotiate with Art-N-Sign to possibly drop the cost, that would have been a bad idea. Theres no guarantee the company would agree to do the job for less than $50,000, and after more time has passed, the process would have to start all over.
The city is now asking for proposals on building the five signs based on the art-deco design. Not only is it the legally required action, its the right thing to do. It becomes a process where companies compete for the citys business.
While theres been nothing illegal about the process so far, bidding the job will make sure that the right company is chosen for the job, whether its Art-N-Sign or some other firm. Everyone will have a fair chance to bid.
In addition, much of the cost of these signs will be paid for with donations from throughout the community. Those donors can be sure that a great deal of shopping around was done on their part.