Council members explain decision on engineering bid

Derek Pufahl, Staff Writer

A tie vote between city council members at the Wayne City Council meeting last Tuesday (Jan. 19) was tipped in favor of accepting a $106,000 proposal from McLaury Engineering Inc. to work on the Fourth Design project in town.

Two lower bids were also made from engineering firms, Olsson Associates and Advanced Consulting Engineering Services (ACES).

NATS Chief Information Officer and Councilman Nicholas Muir, who voted in favor of accepting McLaury’s bid, said that the lowest bid came from Olsson Associates at $69,000 and that ACES’s bid was $75,000.

“The low bidder ended up adding additional charges to their proposal, to include work that was left out. [Olsson raised its bid to $74,000.] While this was not enough to change them being one of the lowest bids, the late addition concerned me,” said criminal justice professor and Councilman Dr. Jason Karsky, who also voted in favor of McLaury’s bid.

City administrator Lowell Johnson said that because the engineers are not receiving any state or federal funding for the project, the council is not required to go with the lowest bid.

The vote stood at 4-4, and the Council called upon Mayor Ken Chamberlain to break the tie, who voted in favor of the bid from McLaury.

“I can see where we have an opportunity to give a local business a chance, but these costs are going to go back on the homeowner’s on that route, and we’re potentially passing another $37,000 onto them,” Councilman Matt Eischeid, who voted against McLaury’s bid, told the Wayne Herald.

Muir said the $37,000 difference between McLaury’s bid and Olsson’s initial bid was probably a big reason for the close vote.

“When you’re sitting in the city council seat and you’re making sure that you’re making the best use of the taxpayer money, a lot of times you end up the lowest bid, but a lot times you might not be getting the best fit for the project,” Muir said.

Another reason for the divided vote during the City Council meeting may have been due to a desire for more information.

“Some thought we needed to use our retreat time this Friday and Saturday coming up at the Wayne Senior Center to discuss the design for that area further before we move forward in designing the street,” Muir said.

Muir pointed out another difference between McLaury and the other two firms which played a role in his decision making. Both the Olsson and ACES bids were fixed figures that would not change even if the work took less time than proposed. McLaury, on the other hand, would charge hourly, meaning that if the work was finished in less time than proposed, they wouldn’t charge for the full $106,000.

“In what we have received thus far, McLaury is very thorough and illustrates a high standard to detail,” Karsky said. “Furthermore, we try to go local with businesses, and this is a new firm in Wayne that is confident in their quality of work to the point that they stuck with their original bid after they knew other firms looked at that bid.

“There are no guarantees. However, under the circumstances, I believe this was the right decision at this time.”

Muir said, “This is an opportunity for McLaury, a new local resource with a good project portfolio, to demonstrate the quality of work they can provide to Wayne on future projects.”



The Fourth Street project is a projected city design change that would extend Fourth Street out towards the Cobblestone Hotel, just north of the rugby fields.

Part of the project would include repurposing part of the lagoon, which is a 26 acre use of land used for the sewage of the city of Wayne, which can be brought down to a two-acre lagoon because of the new water treatment plant.

McLaury is a newly established Wayne-based engineering firm. Steve Rames, husband of WSC President Maryz Rames, is a professional engineer and surveyor for the firm.