Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Vernon council chooses Milford company for school project

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
December 25, 2005

VERNON — The Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday to hire a Milford firm for as much as $4.08 million to perform construction management services on the $68.3 million school rebuilding project.

Under a negotiated agreement with Turner Construction of Milford, the final cost to the town will be determined by actual construction costs, which have been estimated between $51 and $58 million.

The contract with Turner Construction was negotiated outside of the town's typical sealed-bid process, in which contracts are awarded to the firm with the lowest proposed cost.

Instead, members of the School Building Advisory Commission used a quality-based bidding process, in which four proposals were received and then they were ranked based on qualifications.

In the end, the commission determined that Turner was the most qualified bidder, commission Chairman John Leary told the Town Council.

Turner also had the lowest proposed price, Leary said.

Under the agreement with Turner, the town will pay a fixed cost to the company of $563,000 for pre-construction work and reimbursable expenses.

The remainder of the costs will be based on the money expended to construction contractors using the low-bid process.

Under the agreement, the town will pay Turner 6.06 percent of the actual construction costs.

If construction costs come in at the low end of previous estimate, $51 million, the total cost of construction management services will be slightly more than $3.65 million.

If they come in at the high end, or $58 million, Turner would be paid slightly less than $4.08 million.

The resolution passed by the Town Council Tuesday caps the cost at $4.08 million.

"The School Building Advisory Commission has undertaken a comprehensive recruitment and selection process that included receiving cost estimates for the completion of the project," Town Administrator Laurence R. Shaffer wrote in a Dec. 15 memorandum to Mayor Ellen L. Marmer and Town Council members.

"At the conclusion of that process, the commission unanimously agreed that Turner Construction was the lowest responsible bidder on the project," he wrote.

This is the second major contract to be awarded this month in connection with the school reconstruction project, which was approved by voters at referendum in March.

On Dec. 6, the Town Council approved the awarding of a $4 million contract to Jeter, Cook, & Jepson Architects Inc. of Hartford to design the project.

The commission also used a quality-based selection process in hiring the architectural firm.

Republican Town Council members, who hold a 7-5 majority, have been critical of the quality-based selection process, saying there is no way to ensure that the town is spending money in the most efficient manner.

But council Republicans have backed these two contracts, saying they were impressed by the complex process used by the building commission.