UPPER POTTSGROVE — City commissioners have hired a civil engineering firm to help design the new $5.5 million municipal building that is expected to be built on what was once protected open space off Evans Road.
But finding out how much the company is being paid is no task for the shy. City officials aren’t sure the figure — on a public building, to be built with public money, on public land — is public information.
The unanimous vote for the award of the offer to CMC Engineering took place during a short public meeting on Wednesday 9 November.
During that meeting, Commissioners Chair Trace Slinkerd held up a spreadsheet for comparison purposes that identified the four companies that bid for the job — CMC Engineering, Reuther Bowen, Terraform, T&M — and several characteristics of their offering, such as “cost, relationship to township, relationship to county, and completeness of brief.
But that display contained no dollar figures.
Without providing the cost of CMC’s bid, Reddick told The Mercury on Thursday, “I can tell you this, they were the lowest bidder.”
According to council records, CMC Engineering is the firm creating a new master plan for Hollenbach Park.
Briefly during the Nov. 9 meeting, as Slinkerd tried to get the visual right, the audience saw a spreadsheet that broke down each bid’s dollar estimate for different businesses.
But city director Michelle Reddick, who has more than 25 years of municipal experience under her belt, said she wasn’t sure the spreadsheet, which outlines the dollar amounts of the deals, is a public document.
Reddick said Thursday — more than a week after Mercury’s attempt to get background information about what the deals would cost had yielded nothing — he doesn’t know if the document with the figures has been shared with other commissioners. He knows he didn’t send it to her. “It was on Trace’s flash drive,” he said. “You can ask the other commissioners,” he said.
Commissioner Cathy Paretti responded to an email from Mercury on Thursday writing “Michelle is correct, the commissioners were not issued the spreadsheet for the BOC meeting. We all had copies of the RFPs with the outage before the interviews were scheduled and I attended the interviews.
Reddick called on The Mercury to file a right-to-know request for each of the four bids, which was filed Thursday after the phone call, but said the city’s attorney will have to review that request, which can take up to 30 days. “I’m pretty sure the winning bid is a public record, but I’m not so sure about the other three,” Reddick said.
According to the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records, “all state and local government agency records are assumed to be public. This means that if an agency wishes to withhold a record, it must demonstrate that it has the right to do so under the (Right-To-Know Act), another law or regulation, privilege (such as attorney-client privilege), or court order. court. “