By Karen Brainard
The design contract for the Ramona Municipal Water District’s San Vicente pipeline relocation will not go to Dudek Engineering, which submitted the lowest proposal, but to Nolte/Vertical5 (NV5) to avoid potential conflict, the water board decided at its July 24 meeting.
The decision came after much deliberation and one dissent. Director Joe Zenovic stood by the board’s June 26 decision to award the contract to Dudek.
“I see no potential conflict of interest with Dudek getting the job,” said Zenovic, pointing out that Dudek was nearly $31,000 less than NV5, the second lowest bidder.
Dudek’s proposal for design and construction support services was for $80,610 while NV5’s came in at $111,292. A total of four proposals were received.
Based in Encinitas, Dudek contracts with the district to provide engineering services with one engineer, Ricardo Soto, working full time at the district, and Mike Metts working part time as needed.
It is because of Dudek’s relationship with the district that Legal Counsel Brook Miller of Best Best & Krieger advised the board to award the contract to another firm to avoid “potential for conflict.”
“This is a legal issue because Dudek is acting as a consultant...in a staff capacity,” she said.
Miller added that other companies responding to the request for proposal could perceive that Dudek skewed the proposal to its favor because its employees prepared the specifications.
RMWD General Manager David Barnum said there were no formal protests or challenges to awarding the contract to Dudek but, because RMWD is small, “this is using an abundance of caution.”
Miller said if the district had a bigger staff with more oversight, there might not be an issue.
“I don’t personally feel there was a conflict of interest but I can understand the perception,” said Metts.
Zenovic made a motion to award the contract to Dudek but that failed with only Zenovic supporting it.
Director Everett “Red” Hager questioned whether the job could be accomplished in-house by Soto and Metts, but Metts said they would still need drafting staff from Dudek.
The directors also discussed re-issuing the request for proposal in an effort to lower the cost, but Metts noted the tight timeline, as set by the county.
The water main that needs to be relocated is in the county right of way in San Vicente Road between Warnock Drive and Vicente Meadow Drive. The county plans to begin construction of its San Vicente Road realignment project around October 2013 and is requesting the district submit its design plans and funding by March 2013. The county is allowing RMWD to dovetail the pipeline project with the county’s construction contract, which will save the water district money, according to Barnum.
Metts said going out for new proposals could delay the design, which could then affect the county’s schedule. And if that happened, the district could lose out on the economic benefits of working with the county, he said.
In other action:
• The board gave its approval for the in-house engineer and staff to proceed with design and survey for a natural gas pipeline to the Poway Pump Station. The natural gas line will provide a second source of power to the pump station so if electricity goes out the pumps can continue to run.
•RMWD board appointed Barnum as its representative to the San Diego County Water Authority Board. Barnum has been serving as the CWA rep for the past four months and said it entails about 40 hours a month.
•Members of the Ramona Fire Department reported the Insurance Service Office (ISO) conducted an evaluation of the department’s fire suppression services. The ISO’s Public Protection Classification gave the department a 4/9 rating which is in the top 15 percent nationwide and the same as its evaluation in 2000, stated staff. The PPC ratings range from 1 to 10 with 1 being superior property fire protection. The second number is higher because it refers to homes in the outlying areas of Ramona that are more than five minutes away from a fire station, said Battalion Chief Saul Villagomez.
•The directors recognized the retirement of Josie Coleman after 30 years with RMWD with a resolution of appreciation. Coleman was hired in 1982 as a general service clerk I and advanced to accounting technician III.
•The board adopted an amended appendix to its Conflict of Interest Code that requires the following positions to file financial disclosure statements: members of the board, general manager, financial services director and financial consultants. State law requires a semi-annual update of the Conflict of Interest Code