Dougherty rescinds public works contract

ALBANY -- The Dougherty County Commission unanimously voted in a special-called meeting Monday to rescind a controversial construction contract on its new public works building and award it instead to a Moultrie-based company.

The commission had previously awarded the sales tax project to Albany-based LRA Constructors even though it wasn't the low bid because a majority of the commission believed the difference in the bid price -- $1,988 -- was close enough to justify helping a local business.

But officials with JCI Contractors out of Moultrie, who were the lowest bid meeting specifications, felt they had been stripped of the project unfairly and asked the commission to reconsider.

In trying to justify the award for the bid, JCI wrote in an e-mail to county staff that 12 of the 14 subcontractors they were planning to use on the project would be local subs after commissioners have expressed recently a concern that government contracts appear to be headed out of town to the detriment of local small business owners.

The $729,000 project is to be funded through the use of special sales tax dollars that have already been approved by the voters.

The commission has been grappling recently with awarding contracts and balancing a desire to help local small business while trying to maintain the integrity of the bid process and follow the law.

Recently, some on the commission aired concerns about awarding a construction bid for an EMS headquarters to a company out of Lowndes County. The concern was that since Lowndes County has a preference policy and Valdosta has a sheltered market that they would limit access to companies based in Dougherty County.

Ultimately they awarded the bid to Lowndes-based S.C. Barker, but even Monday, there were verbal groans as the commission discussed awarding a bid for a F-250 Supercrew for the Public Works Department to Wade Ford out of Smyrna when a local bidder, Ford Town of Albany had a bid of only $243 more.