It was only $41, but it cost a Santa Ana company a $197,000 job.
The City Council recently awarded a contract for sewer work to a Los Alamitos firm, even though Santa Ana-based BNB Engineering had proposed to do the job for just $41 more. The city charter requires that contracts go to the lowest bidder.
That policy isn’t sitting well with Councilman Ted R. Moreno. “For $41, it’s a shame to have that money going out of the city,” Moreno told his colleagues.
Moreno is pushing for a charter amendment that would allow the city to choose a Santa Ana firm in some cases even if it were not the lowest bidder.
Janet M. Huston with the League of California Cities said such provisions are common.
Under his proposal, Moreno said, the higher winning bid would not be able to exceed the lowest by more than 1% of the total cost of the project.
To amend the charter, a majority of the City Council would have to vote to place the amendment on the ballot. City residents would then have to pass it.
John T. Malloy, president of the company that won the Santa Ana contract, said he would not favor such a change. “I’d like to know for sure that, if I’m the low bidder, I’m going to get the job,” Malloy said.