ELLSWORTH — The Ellsworth City Council met Monday evening to discuss bids for the new city hall, rec center and city shop. After considering the bids offered, the council voted to table bid selection until a special meeting Sept. 23.
The council's main concern was the city shop. The lowest bid came in at "about double" the engineer's estimate, Mayor Tasha Domeyer said.
Council member Paul Snyder said he did the math and calculated that the rebuilt city hall came out to about $116 per square foot. The lowest bid on the city shop was $125 per square foot.
"There's no finishing work" in a shop, he said, so the building should not cost more per square foot than a brand new city hall.
"I don't think we can accept anything until we know why it is what it is," Domeyer added.
Since they didn't feel comfortable with the shop bids, council members had two options: either hold the bids for more information (up to 60 days) or reject all the bids and restart the bidding process. They opted to revisit the bids in a special meeting Sept. 23, with the hope of having more information by then about why the shop would be so expensive.
One bid for the other two buildings — the new city hall and the rec center — stood out as attractive to the council. APX was the low bidder on the two buildings combined, and offered to hold the bid until June 1, 2020. The advantage of holding until June is that the city of Ellsworth has applied for a state matching grant of $1.3 million, which will not be decided until late May when the legislative session ends.
Although APX's offer appealed to council members, they also opted to table the other bids. They plan to make a final decision Sept. 23.