The Mobile City Council approved a slew of contracts today totaling almost $1.7 million for the city of Mobile, Alabama Cruise Terminal, despite initial concerns over minority-owned business participation.
At issue during a council pre-conference meeting was the disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) participation in one of two contracts awarded to Robert J. Baggett Inc., worth roughly $320,000 for work related repairs at the terminal’s parking deck.Councilman Fred Richardson raised concerns over the bid Baggett submitted for the contract because there were no minority-owned firms listed as possible subcontractors on the project. The city requires all contractors who aren’t a disadvantaged business owner to make a ‘best effort’ to include minority-owned subcontractors.
A rule within the Zoghby Act, the ordinance establishing the city’s current form of government, requires a “best effort” to achieve at least 15 percent participation from businesses owned by women, or racial minorities on city contracts.
At first, Richardson said he wouldn’t support the $320,000 contract because DBE information wasn’t included in the Baggett’s bid.
Between the pre-conference and the council meeting, however, Supplier Diversity Manager Archnique Kidd informed Richardson that Baggett had agreed to use a minority-owned supplier — giving his bid a 21 percent DBE participation, according to Kidd.
Richardson’s complaints did spark debate among councilors over the reading of the DBE rule, with Councilmen John Williams and Joel Daves interpreting it to mean 15 percent DBE participation was needed for an entire project. For instance, Architectural Engineering Director Kimberly Harden said DBE participation makes up about 25 percent of the entire cruise terminal project.Williams added that more education for local business owners might be needed, who said he’s heard from at least one who thought a DBE was required before submitting a bid. In that particular case, Williams said the addition of a DBE made the bid price too high and the contractor in question lost out to another company.
Don Rose, chief procurement officer, said the city will work with qualified bidders to add disadvantaged business enterprises to projects and that having one in place is not a requirement for a qualifying bid. However, the city must must take the lowest responsible bid to be in compliance with state law.
Baggett was also awarded a $197,223 contract for mooring hardware repair at the cruise terminal. In addition, Sycamore Construction was awarded a $443,881 contract for architectural repairs and SimplexGrinnell LP — with 8 percent DBE participation — was awarded a $638,552 contract for security upgrades at the terminal.
In other business, the council approved a recommendation to the ABC Board for issuance of a retail alcohol license for Old Shell Growlers. Owner Matthew Golden said with the recommendation, the craft beer operation at the intersection of Old Shell Road and Kenneth Street could be open as early as next week.
The council also approved a $712,000 contract with Gulf Equipment to fill in open ditches along Warsaw and Collins avenues from Main Street to Jessie Street in Trinity Gardens. Richardson, who represents the neighborhood, said more ditches would be filled in next year’s CIP program.
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