By Shelby Stewart
Ortonville- On Monday night, the village voted 7-0 to reject four bids for sidewalks in the village.
“We received four bids, which we were very happy to see that we had more companies interested in bidding on the project, but very disappointed once we got them open and looked at them, because I believe that your bids last year were in the area of $50-70,000, and this year every bid is over $100,000 for exactly the same thing,” said Dale Stuart, village manager. “Because it is so high, we had in our budget about $30,000 for this project, and as you can see this is multiples of that. So it is my recommendation to you that we reject all of the bids and it is not my recommendation to you that at the present time that we rebid those, because I don’t think it’s likely that we will get significantly different bids.”
Stuart said that he spoke with some of the bidders, who said that the higher cost was due to cost of materials.
“My recommendation to the council is that we look more and pay more attention to our roads in general, until we can get our roads up to a better level of improvement so that for the time being, we just hold still on anything for sidewalks,” he said.
Cost of materials may be higher due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the council agreed that postponing the project would be best, though it was also postponed last year due to cost.
“Although I really would like to see us move forward on some sidewalk projects, unfortunately I think that Dale’s got the right focus, I think that we need to put more priority on roads first,” said Larry Hayden, trustee.
Some trustees had concerns that the cost would only continue to go up, since the cost was higher last year as well.
“One thing I’m really concerned with, one day, in a couple of years when we go to start working on the one main project we’ve talked about many times, and that was Oakwood, I mean, with these costs, even with the grant and everything else, are we even going to be able to touch it?” Asked trustee Mark Robinson.
Trustee Dan Eschmann also brought up that the Coronavirus pandemic also hurt the general workforce and employment.
“I think one thing we have to consider is what COVID did to the workforce. The workforce in general has declined such that companies are operating with a much smaller labor force,” said Eschmann. “And as Dale indicated, the jobs are plentiful right now and they don’t have enough labor to take care of them all so therefore the bids are much higher today than they would have been prior to COVID.”
Stuart has asked to re-allocate those funds to road projects, which he will pursue this year.