Commissioners rescind bid acceptance after contractor doubles price


Repairs to a section of the heating and air conditioning system at the Cheyenne County Courthouse will likely be postponed a year after the company approved to do the work said it miscalculated the bid and the actual cost would be twice as much.

The Cheyenne County Commissioners were visibly frustrated Monday as they discussed a request from Johnson Controls to rescind its bid in light of the new information.

Paul Schaub, county attorney, said Johnson Controls contacted the county shortly after commissioners approved its bid of $74,185 in March for the work.

"We received a call indicating they had made a mistake in the price they had quoted – and not small, but by thousands," he said.

After a bid is accepted, it in essence turns into a contract, he added.

"But a contract can be canceled on grounds of a mistake of fact if there was not a meeting of the minds as to material elements or facts on that agreement," Schaub said.

Despite Johnson Controls' request to nullify the contract, no one from the company was present at the meeting to answer questions or provide more information.

Commissioner Philip Sanders said the company's response frustrated him.

"It just makes it hard for me to want to go back and do business with them," he said. "They haven't said anything about how to remedy this. I just can't go along with that."

Doug Kirk, of Johnson Controls, presented the firm's initial bid during the March 16 commissioners' meeting. The proposed work included replacing two heating and cooling units above a bathroom in the court house building. At the time, he said work would start within three weeks.

On Monday, Roger Conley, Cheyenne County building and grounds superintendent, was answering commissioners' questions when he received a call from Charles Hall of Johnson Controls.

The call was put on speakerphone and Hall provided more information about the situation.

He said the mix up was due to a contractor supplying a wrong price.

"This has put us in a very uncomfortable position," he said. "We're very embarrassed. We put a proposal in front of you and you signed it. I'm not sure where to go from here."

Sanders asked if Hall had a revised dollar amount for the project.

"We're probably in the $130,000 price range," Hall replied.

Commissioner Steven Olson remarked that was nearly double the approved price.

Darrell Johnson, the commission chairman, said the county doesn't currently have funds budgeted for such a costly project.

"The board's general consensus is you made a tremendous mistake," he said. "We understand that, we want to work with. But budgetary-wise, we're not able to do what you're saying it's going to cost."

Hall said he understood.

"Maybe the best thing for you to do is rebid this so we have all the figures in front of us, and I guess we're just going to have to start over," Johnson added.

After the phone call, Johnson asked if the repairs could wait.

Conley said a temporary fix was already in place and it should hold through the summer.

The commissioners unanimously voted to rescind the Johnson Controls bid and opted to reopen bids in the future.


Reader Comments

guest01 writes:

I wish the city fathers would have asked for the originally specified hvac units and price, and then compared it to the new double priced units. It is easy enough to compare unit costs. It seems prudent to check the vendors story.


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