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City tables airport terminal bid

Assistant City Manager Wes Smith gives a presentation on the city’s redistricting efforts during a public hearing Tuesday at the government center. Eleven members of the general public, including five political candidates were the only attendees to the event. The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. October 13 at Albany State University.

Assistant City Manager Wes Smith gives a presentation on the city’s redistricting efforts during a public hearing Tuesday at the government center. Eleven members of the general public, including five political candidates were the only attendees to the event. The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. October 13 at Albany State University.

ALBANY, Ga. — A protest by the second-lowest bidder on the city’s multi-million dollar airport terminal construction project has temporarily put the brakes on the commission’s plan to award the bid.

At its Sept. 20 work session, the City Commission tentatively voted to award a $10.7 million contract to Manhattan-RFB — an Atlanta-based company that was the lowest bidder on the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport terminal contract.

But when the commission assembled to ratify the contract Tuesday night, swift action by the next bidder in line, Walbridge Aldinger Company of Tampa, Fla., brought action to a screeching halt.

Walbridge is using the city’s protest policy to lodge a formal complaint against Manhattan-RFB, claiming that Manhattan’s numbers are off in its utilization of minority businesses.

Under federal law, contractors who accept federal funding for projects must meet spend a certain percentage of the total project funding on minority subcontractors and vendors.

For the terminal project, the Federal Aviation Administration requires a 14.7 percent funding goal for minority businesses. On paper, Manhattan-RFB said they had plans to exceed that goal and use 15.5 percent.

But Walbridge claims that the largest segment of that minority usage — low-voltage contractors — aren’t certified to the levels required by the contract and can’t be counted.

If the city moves ahead, Walbridge could consider a lawsuit.

“So right now we’re going back; we’re looking at the numbers and researching their protest to see if it has any merit,” City Procurement Director Stephen Collier said Tuesday.

Airport Director Yvette Aehle said Tuesday that tabling the matter for a few weeks while the city investigates the complaint shouldn’t alter the timeline for construction.

“I think we’ll get to the bottom of the issue before we see much impact on the construction schedule,” Aehle said.

The project is funded 72 percent or $7.8 million by the FAA, 25.3 percent or $2.7 million by sales tax dollars and 2.5 percent or $269,000 by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Aehle said she hopes to have the issue resolved within a few weeks and have it back before the commission before the next commission night meeting in October.