City rejects lone paving bid that came in $3 million over estimates

Published 10:52 am Wednesday, March 15, 2023

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NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez is going back to the drawing board in terms of trying to hire a contractor for its aggressive road-paving project.

Public Works Director Justin Dollar asked the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen on Tuesday morning to reject the lone bid it received for the city’s paving project because the bid came in more than $3 million over the estimated cost of the project.

In late 2022, the city issued $6 million in bonds to be used to resurface roads. It is perhaps the largest city roadwork project ever.

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Aldermen hoped that 75 roads would be included in the project, but costs will dictate the final number.

APAC, an asphalt and construction materials company was the only bidder on the project.

Dollar sought permission and was granted it to re-bid the project.

“We are working hard to analyze that bid and to see what caused it to be so high,” said Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson. “The actual number is higher as I understand it than was quoted to the city than was quoted to the county for a similar project.”

Alderman Billie Joe Frazier asked for clarity from Dollar.

“There is some difference in our particular project that theirs (the county), but looking at tonnage for asphalt and things like that … there was a substantial difference in tonnage price for asphalt,” Dollar said.

Dollar also asked permission to renew the city’s current contract with Jeffery Ross Industrial Services at that company’s current rate for mowing and trimming of select city streets and properties.

Frazier and Alderwoman Felicia Bridgewater Irving asked Dollar why he would not re-bid the contract, instead of renewing it.

“This is what I will say about that. We went through the same process in 2016, you will remember. We ultimately got the same contract with a $20,000 price increase,” Dollar said. “That’s certainly an option if you want to do that, but I personally would not advise that … these prices are staying the same.”

The mayor and aldermen ended its meeting with an executive session to litigation involving the Titan Tire property, potential litigation involving a contract in the recreation department and a personnel matter.

After returning from execution session, aldermen took no action on any of those issues, but granted City Attorney Bryan Callaway permission to seek an appraisal on property.