Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Written 2/26/2008

Recommended Bid for Rocky Branch Uses Alternate Design

The Selection Committee reviewing the bids for design of the Rocky Branch sewage plant upgrade unanimously recommended to the Oconee County Board of Commissioners tonight that it select HSF Engineering of Snellville and that the County abandon plans to use the vertical loop reactor design originally proposed for the plant.

Instead, the Selection Committee recommended a design in which membrane filtration is a tertiary step, rather than at the core of the treatment process.

The Board put the item on the agenda for final action at its meeting on March 4.

All nine submitted bids will be made available to the public tomorrow, BOC Chairman Melvin Davis said, though they will not be put on the web, as he promised at the January 29 meeting.

He also said he will make available the ratings by the Selection Committee of the nine submitted bids.

John Hatcher, Utility Department head, told Commissioner Jim Luke that the water coming out of the upgraded Rocky Branch plant will be the "best quality water we can afford to treat." He said it would match the quality of water from the current Calls Creek plant, which uses the vertical loop reactor treatment process.

The County has acknowledged problems with the operating expense of the Calls Creek plant.

HSF Engineering was selected over finalists Brown and Caldwell and Wiedeman & Singleton, both of of Atlanta. The HSF bid was low among the three at $572,000, Hatcher said. HSF estimated that it will cost $8 million to construct the plant, according to Hatcher.

Hatcher said the County would issue a Request for Proposal for the construction of the plant in March of this year. Construction should start in the end of October, he said.

In response to questions I posed to Chairman Davis during the public comment section of the meeting, Chairman Davis admitted that the committee that reviewed the bids was the Selection Committee specified in the Request for Proposals for the bids.

County Attorney Daniel Haygood in a letter he sent to me and copied to the Attorney General argued that the committee was a group "requested" by Precision Planning, Inc., to help it evaluate the bids for the County, rather than the Selection Committee specified in the RFP.

I filed a complaint with the Attorney General after the County closed meetings of the Selection Committee.

Commissioner Chuck Horton, who attended those meetings, told Chairman Davis tonight that "We made a mistake from a PR standpoint by not opening that up." He said the discussion at the meeting was very informative and would have helped the public understand the recommendation of the Selection Committee.

Davis did not respond.

In other action, the Board agreed to schedule two works sessions and a public hearing on a beer and wine ordinance for the County and to take final action at its April 1 meeting.

The work sessions will be March 11 and March 20. The public hearing will be March 18. The first reading of the ordinance will be on March 28.

The BOC also agreed to advertise for persons interested in serving on a committee to study the possibility of initiating impact fees on developers to help pay for infrastructure requirements associated with development.

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