A Dallas contractor is accusing the City of Lubbock of unlawful business practice and says he will sue for $5 million in damages.
State law requires cities to award contracts to the lowest responsible bidder. Two weeks ago, the lowest bidder in this case, Oscar Renda out of Dallas, signed a sworn affidavit that they were not low balling the price in order to win the bid. But since all the paper work has been signed and background checks have been made, the city now feels the lowest responsible bidder is the local company, Utility Contractors of America, of Wolfforth; citing current letigation concerns involving Oscar Renda and former clients. Councilwoman Linda DeLeon says its an issue bound to blow up in court and cost the taxpayers even more money.
Dallas lawyers who represent Oscar Renda contractors of Dallas warned council members Thursday morning during Citizen Comment. "We believe the council knows they failed to follow the state law when they decided to give preference to a local bidder and to award a contract to a local contractor and spend $2.2 million unnecessarily. You have an opportunity to correct a mistake," said Dallas Attorney Terry Salazar.
Councilman Tom Martin in a September 28th council meeting questioned whether Renda Contractors was the lowest responsible bidder. Marsha Reed who works in the city's water department, told Martin she had concerns with Renda Contractors: that the company has pending litigation and a track record of low balling bids to get a job and changing the price.
But Reed also recommended the city hire Renda Contractors because it signed a contract that would not allow it to change prices in the middle of the job. "If you have to sign a sworn affidavit under oath that they're telling the truth, it indicates to me a lack of responsibility," said Martin.
Councilwoman DeLeon wanted to talk about this again on Thursday because she was hoping councilmen Martin, Gary Boren , Mayor Marc McDougal and Phyllis Jones would change their vote.
"The city's going to end up in a lawsuit again. I think taxpayers are so tired of litigation. I was hoping to avoid that," said DeLeon.
The lawsuit, along with an injunction from a Lubbock taxpayer, John Beck, will be filed in court next week.