A bid to replace the leaking roof at the Oak Lawn Public Works streets and sewer facility at 98th Street and Central Avenue is likely to be rescinded after questions arose about ambiguous bid specifications.
The Oak Lawn Village Board voted 4 to 3 to award a $166,085 contract to Adler Roofing of Joliet at the Nov. 27 village board meeting—even though Adler was not the lowest bidder.
Seven roofing companies submitted bids to the village in response to a request for proposals. Adler was the fourth lowest bidder, whose alternate bid of $166,085 was $4,909 more than the lowest bidder, DCG Roofing Solutions of Des Plaines, which bid $161,175.
DCG also submitted an alternate bid that was $9,800 less than its original bid, offering to switch out materials. The alternate bid was still less than Adler's bid, village documents show.
After the mayor cast the tiebreaking "yes" vote on the consent agenda, village manager Larry Deetjen leaned over and whispered in his ear.
Mayor Dave Heilmann asked the village attorney if the vote for the roofing contract required a “supermajority.”
“The village manager brought something to my attention,” Heilmann said. “If for some reason that needs to be revisited, just let all the board know. I wasn’t aware of the issue related to roof replacement. Obviously there was a disagreement here.”
Village attorney Paul O’Grady explained that only two companies provided a schedule that was specified in the bid specifications. Any deviations from the language in a bid, such as providing information that was not requested or not providing information specified in the bid, are grounds for rejecting a bid, even if it is the lowest.
“The first two bidders currently did not provide a schedule, which was part of the specifications, so they technically didn’t comply,” O’Grady said. “It was a material deviation we were told.”
One question that arose was an Oak Lawn trustee's familial ties to Adler Roofing, a company that has been around for more than a century.
“My brother works at the firm,” Trustee Bob Streit (Dist. 3) said after the meeting.
The Oak Lawn trustee’s brother, Mike Streit, is an estimator for Adler and has no ownership in the company.
Adler has done other work for the village and contributed $2,925 to Streit's campaign coffers between 2009 and 2012. The most recent donation of $500 was made on Sept. 27.
“Adler was deemed as the lowest responsible bidder,” Streit said. “Staff made that recommendation. Without explanation, three trustees vote no and don’t say why. It passes 4-3. Next thing Larry Deetjen whispers in the mayor’s ear that it needs a supermajority.”
Deetjen said that the bid specifications, which were written by the public works staff, should have gone for a legal review after speaking to lowest bidder DCG, which was bypassed because it did not specify a starting date.
“My observation was that the specification documents looked to me not to be clear,” the village manager said. “I thought they were ambiguous and didn’t see where it was clearly stipulated with a column or space to put a starting date.”
After speaking with public works staff, Deetjen said, he informed the village attorney that it was in the village’s best interests to rescind the offer. They agreed that an error had been made by not asking the village attorney to review the bid specifications.
“Clearly, in my opinion, the public works teams had not done that extra step that could have eliminated ambiguity,” Deetjen said.
The “ambiguity” in question specified that “contractors' scheduling will have influence on choosing lowest and best bids.”
By state law, municipalities reserve the right to reject or accept any or all bids.
“If one cries foul and the foul is legitimate, than it’s best to start the process over and have clarity,” Deetjen said.
Deetjen said it would go on the next village board agenda that the bidding process would be rebooted in the winter for the spring project.
Streit reiterated that the process was fine and that some trustees didn’t want the firm that his brother worked for to get the job.
"Of course I'd like to see my brother's company do the work," Streit said. "The process was fair and proper. [Adler] has done other jobs in Oak Lawn that trustees have voted for. There was no collusion.”