The Monroe County officials are concerned that two companies protesting the awarded bids for the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater Treatment System project could "jeopardize" $30 million in state funding.
The county received the $30 million last year from the state Legislature, but under the terms that construction contracts for the treatment system must be signed by March 1. The county, which fought hard for the state funding, is concerned that the signing of the contracts could be held up with the two formal protests filed and the state will take back the money.
Monroe County Attorney Bob Shillinger has called for a discussion on the issue and the County Commission will discuss it at its Jan. 16 meeting.
"A party that is dissatisfied with the outcome of the FKAA (Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority) administrative process could seek relief in the courts including an injunction to halt the award of the contracts," Shillinger wrote commissioners. "Such a development could jeopardize the $30 million in Mayfield (state) bonds proceeds .... Staff is seeking authorization to take any necessary steps to protect the county's interest, including but not limited to intervening in any administrative and/or judicial proceedings so as to protect against the potential loss of the Mayfield (state grant) funding resulting from delays caused by protests and litigation."
Shillinger did not rule out the county having to bond its own $30 million for the project in case the protests are not resolved by March 1.
The protests also come as the county and Keys municipalities are about to ask for another $50 million from the state this year.
Earlier this month, the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority Board unanimously agreed to award a $35 million contract to the Michigan-based Giannetti Contracting Corp. to build the wastewater collection system for the inner areas of the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater Regional System.
The board also approved a $79.8 million contract with Layne Heavy Civil Inc. to build another collection system to serve the outer areas of the Cudjoe Regional System.
Two companies that came in second place in the rankings -- GlobeTec and Douglas N. Higgins Inc. -- have filed formal protest against the awarding of the contracts to Giannetti and Layne Heavy. Under Aqueduct Authority rules, the companies are allowed to protest and plead their cases to Aqueduct Authority Executive Kirk Zeulch.
Representatives with the companies plan to meet with Zeulch on Thursday and Friday to plead their case. Zeulch will then decide whether to reconsider the bids.
Zeulch would not go into details about the bids because he called it "pending litigation," but he did say that he is not surprised the companies appealed because of the amounts of the contracts, $114.8 million.