The assembly has decided on a construction firm to build Water Well Number 4 shortly after approving the use of Commercial Passeneger Vessel excise tax funds for debt repayments of the project at the meeting on July 21.

Borough Manager Scott Hahn said the municipality received three bids for the project for the amounts of $537,000 from Anchorage-based Far West Ventures Inc., $573,000 from local firm NorthPoint Construction, Inc. and $688,000 from Juneau-based Dawson Construction.

Once the assembly had approved the method of payment for the water well, the municipality wanted to begin receiving bids for the project and then choose the lowest bidder to get the project under way.

However, the lowest bid from Far West Ventures, Inc. seemed off to Hahn upon closer inspection.

“Staff started looking over the bid from Dawson Construction, and it just looked kind of strange. It didn’t seem to add up, and so we had a lot of questions,” Hahn said.

The municipality asked engineering firm contractor Carson Dorn to look over the bid and vet the aspects that gave Hahn pause.

“They kind of confirmed our concerns. They found several problems with the bid that could be determined as unresponsive,” Hahn said.

The bid had a vast array of issues, according to Hahn, including that the construction firm was not licensed at the time of bid submission to perform the necessary electrical work for the project, nor did they list a drilling company at the time of the submission, and two different bid dollar amounts were listed in the bid documents causing uncertainty.

Additionally, the inspection of the bid revealed the subcontractors the construction company had listed were actually equipment and material suppliers, thus providing them a significant bidding advantage over firms due to the significantly lower cost estimate.

They also failed to provide references of projects their firm had previously completed.

As such, Hahn recommended the contract be awarded to NorthPoint Construction for the amount of $572,888 in light of the Far West Ventures Inc. unresponsive bid.

The assembly unanimously voted to award the contract to North Point. However, Far West Ventures Inc. still has the option to appeal Hahn’s finding that their bid was unresponsive.