Recently cost conscious councilmember Mark Daily was alone voting against a pay raise for the Coos Bay city manager. Perhaps he believed that a package of salary, benefits, PERS, perks, cell phone and travel allowances, etc. that approaches $200,000 annually was a tad excessive for small town Coos Bay.
Now the councilman’s message to constituents, a letter to the downtown Coos Bay newspaper editor, regarding the wastewater treatment system, published February 16, is an apparent alert and expression of his cause for concern. The taxpayers of Coos Bay are not a bottomless pit of tax and spend monies. Daily apparently has reason to believe that city staff estimates are not credible. He apparently believes that Increasing estimates, now $120 million, for the desired system are unrealistic.
We are not a rapidly growing community. Federal and state requirements for wastewater treatment plant #2 are known. The design is complete. The purpose of the plant is known. There is no reason to anticipate significant “directed” changes to the construction contract; and, there must be no “constructive” changes. There is no reason why a reputable, fiscally sound, contractor with a track record of under budget and on time performance cannot be located. There is no reason for significant contingency caps. There is no reason why the selected contractor should not operate under a fixed price contract assuming all risks of non - performance.
Engineers are taught to be innovative and to design the best possible product. However, this often results in the requirement for a Lamborghini when a four cylinder Ford Fusion will do. The $600 toilet seat example in the councilman’s letter is a good example. My former employer, where I was a mid - level contracting department manager at the toilet seat procurement time, knew that a $30 Home Depot toilet seat was sufficient for aircraft crew. The government insisted on compliance with their Mil Spec document. Ergo, the $600 toilet seat from the low bidder was born.
Under the city of Coos Bay concept of doing business, where each department is their own procuring agency, I would also have major concern in this matter. The wastewater treatment plant #2 designer will be the contracting authority.
We are a community of employed and retired experts. Perhaps it’s time to step back and ask an independent, non - government, committee to review the proposed wastewater treatment system with the objective of cost avoidance and reduction?
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