ALBURY Council has baulked at awarding a tender for works in Wagga Road to a company which was almost $400,000 lower than the only other firm in contention for the $4.3 million project.
Council staff recommended the tender from Mitchell Constructions of $3.97 million be accepted, but on a 4-3 vote the decision was made for chief executive Frank Zaknich to enter into negotiations with Excell Gray Bruni to complete the works even though its tendered amount for the job was close to the budgeted amount.
In moving an alternative motion, Cr Darren Cameron said he was conscious of the council's experience with Lavington Sportsground contractor Depan which went into liquidation earlier this year.
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Depan won the job when it was nearly $500,000 cheaper than the next highest bidder.
"What we have before us is a company which seems to be a good company and has a good reputation," Cr Cameron said.
"I've got no reason to doubt reports from staff that Mitchell Constructions could perform the works.
"The glaring problem I see is the $380,000 differential.
"Weighing heavily on my mind is the experience with Depan."
Cr Cameron also highlighted Excell Gray Bruni's ability to complete the job eight weeks earlier than Mitchell Constructions.
"It is a cliche, but also a fact that time is money, particularly when you have affected shopkeepers and businesses," he said.
Cr David Thurley disputed the similarity to the Depan situation.
"The whole problem with Depan came about as the result of discovering a huge amount of unsuitable soil," he said.
"There were other problems with the corporate structure of that company and its finances, but there is no indication those issues exist with Mitchell Constructions."
Cr John Stuchbery said he was concerned Mitchell Constructions' contract was $380,000 less than the estimated price tag and was going to take eight weeks longer.
"To spend less money and take more time makes no logical sense to me," he said.
Cr Alice Glachan doubted the impact on businesses.
"A longer program doesn't necessarily mean it is going to be more inconvenient," she said.
"There can be greater inconvenience over a shorter period."
Cr Murray King declared a conflict of interest and Cr Henk van de Ven was absent.