April’s council meeting was all about bids.

The Le Center City Council decided to reject two bids submitted for a city-owned lot on South Maple Avenue, but it also agreed to accept a bid for the city’s sealcoating projects for the summer.

There was a good deal of discussion about the 111 South Maple Avenue lot and the bids that were placed for it.

“There were two offers made within a couple of days of each other,” City Administrator Chris Collins said.

Collins said that the lot has been on the market for over a year, so he was surprised that there were suddenly two people interested in it.

Once Collins had received the bids by email, he decided to put them in sealed envelopes so that the council could determine what they wanted to do, but he was able to look at the numbers beforehand and he did tell the council that neither of the bids matched the city’s asking price of $10,000 for the lot.

With the bids sealed, the council had a choice to make. It could either open them and then accept or reject them, or it could leave them sealed to see if they would receive any other bids that might match the asking price.

“It’s not up to me, but I think we should leave them sealed to see if we get another bid,” Mayor Josh Fredrickson said.

“I think we need to know what they’re offering in order to move forward,” council member Dennis Woelfel said.

This is the lot that the city was considering filling with dirt to make it a buildable lot, but according to Woelfel it would cost the city between $3,500 and $5,000 to fill it and make the land buildable.

“We still don’t know if we would get $10,000 if we filled it,” Woelfel said.

Eventually, council members agreed to open the bids.

The first one was made by Mark Schroer for $5,000. Schroer said that he didn’t have any plans for the lot yet, but he would use the garage that is currently on the property.

The second bid was made by Brian Kocina for $8,000. Kocina didn’t mention what he planned on doing with the lot, but he recently bought a city-owned lot on Cordova Avenue. He planned on moving a house onto that lot and council members think he might have the same plan for the Maple Avenue lot, as well.

After opening the bids, the council was only allowed to either accept them or reject them.

“I suggest you reject the bids and continue with the opportunity of selling,” City Attorney Jason Moran said.

“I think we should accept the highest bid,” council member Christian Harmeyer said. “Are we really going to get anything more after waiting for over a year?”

Woelfel said that a buildable lot about the same size as the Maple Avenue one is selling for around $20,000. This lot is not buildable as is, so he believes that cutting that price in half is fair enough.

“I think that lot’s worth $10,000,” Fredrickson said.

After a bit more discussion, Harmeyer brought a motion to accept the Kocina bid to the table, but with no second, the motion died.

Woelfel brought a motion to reject both bids and that motion passed 3-1 with Harmeyer being the only one to object.

“The bidders still have the opportunity to renegotiate with the city,” Moran said. “They still have the opportunity to reoffer at a later time if the lot is still for sale.”

The sealcoating bids brought about much less discussion.

When City Engineer Joel Hawbaker brought the bids to the council there were only three total as the bids were opened the night before the meeting; but Hawbaker said he had received two more earlier that day that had not yet been opened.

After talking to the council before the meeting, Hawbaker and the council members agreed to allow the extra two bids, as well, and they were both opened and brought into the decision.

The first three bids were made by Allied Blacktop Company, M.R. Paving & Excavating, Inc. and Caldwell Asphalt Co., Inc. The other two were made by Pearson Brothers Inc. and Aztec Industries.

In the end, Pearson Brothers from Hanover were the ones who had the lowest bid and was accepted by the council for the project. Pearson Brothers submitted a bid of $30,832.72 for the project, almost $30,000 less than what the city engineers had estimated.

If it turns out that the Pearson Brothers did their math correctly, after city officials check with the company, then the city might add in other streets to the sealcoating project as they will have extra funds .

“We’ve worked with (Pearson Brothers) before,” Hawbaker said. “They’re very good to work with.”

Reach Reporter Ashley Murtha at 507-931-8572.

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