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Judge says Sacramento sewer contract awarded to high bidder is OK

Ruben Robles, director of operations, stands on top of one of the many secondary treatment tanks at the wastewater treatment plant for the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District near Elk Grove. A major project began with a blemish when some subcontractors were recommended and included in bids but then were not certified by the state before bids were opened..
Ruben Robles, director of operations, stands on top of one of the many secondary treatment tanks at the wastewater treatment plant for the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District near Elk Grove. A major project began with a blemish when some subcontractors were recommended and included in bids but then were not certified by the state before bids were opened.. Sacramento Bee file

A regional sewer district followed state law when it awarded a $114 million contract to Davis-based Teichert Construction, despite a bid from another contractor that was $14 million less, a Sacramento Superior Court Judge ruled Wednesday.

Steve P. Rados Inc. of Santa Ana and its subcontractor, Peltz Co. of Alliance, Neb., challenged the contract award by the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District.

The district earlier this year awarded the contract for a wastewater storage project to Teichert because Peltz did not have a state contracting license when applicants submitted bids to the district. Peltz received its license the day before the district made its contract decision.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley initially expressed concern that the district had prequalified Peltz as one of two subcontractors that applicants have to use, but then disqualified the Rados bid because of Peltz’s licensing issue.

When the district’s board voted 10-4 in favor of Teichert, some board members also expressed frustration with a process that certified, yet ultimately rejected, Peltz.

In his written ruling Wednesday, Frawley said both Peltz and Rados were aware of the licensing requirement and failed to meet it. He defended the district’s prequalification process, saying that when the district posted its requirements on Aug. 20, “it could not have foreseen that Peltz’s application would become bogged down in a bureaucratic quagmire” at the Contractors State License Board.

A spokesman at the Contractors State License Board has said Peltz’s license application took four months to process because the board was waiting for the state Department of Justice to finish a criminal background check.

An attorney representing Rados said he is reviewing the decision and considering the legal options. Peltz’s attorney did not respond Wednesday.

The Teichert contract is one of 11 being used in a $2 billion project needed to meet stricter state discharge requirements. The district held a groundbreaking ceremony for the project last week with elected officials and state and federal environmental officials.

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