OCEAN CITY — With a little creative budget maneuvering, resort officials this week voted to double down and paint both the exterior and the interior of the water tower at 94th Street at the same time.
Last week, submitted bids for painting the exterior of the water tower at 94th Street were opened and remanded to staff for review and a recommendation. The estimate in the fiscal year 2022 budget for painting just the exterior of the 94th Street water tower was $350,000.
At the time the bids were open last week, the lowest bid came in at $238,500, which was significantly under the $350,000 budgeted. However, the next day the low bidder contacted the town and said they had to withdraw their bid because of mathematical errors. The next lowest bid was $367,650, and despite being over the budgeted amount in fiscal year 2022, the council voted unanimously to award the contract to the second lowest bidder.
When the bid documents were prepared, painting the exterior of the water tower was part A, with an add-alternate for painting the interior of the tower as part B and the application of the Art League’s logo on the tower as part C. However, it was determined part B, or painting the interior of the water tower was not in the fiscal year 2022 budgeted amount, according to Public Works Director Hal Adkins.
“When we opened the bids for the water tower in general, Part B dealt with painting the interior of the water tower and Part C dealt with placing the Art League’s logo,” he said. “Part B was an additional $365,000 above and beyond the exterior work.
Adkins said it had been determined the interior of the water tower needed to be done, but there was no funding in the fiscal year 2022 budget for that portion of the project.
“The last time that was done was 15 years ago,” he said. “Based on inspections prior to the bidding effort, it was indicated that needs to be done. Unfortunately, given our fiscal year 2022 operating budget in the water department, we didn’t have the funding available to do so.”
However, Adkins recommended finding a way to fund the painting of the interior of the water tower. He cited some ongoing issues with labor and materials in the post-pandemic world.
“Due to the current post-COVID economy, the lack of manpower, escalating material, fuel and equipment costs, our existing fiscal year 2022 budget cannot absorb this additional cost,” he said. “The last time the full interior of the tank was completely blasted and repainted was in 2006. Spot repairs have been performed since that date, but evidence discovered during the last inspection dictates that the full interior needs to be addressed.”
Adkins said it made sense to find a way to fund the painting of both the interior and exterior of the tower.
“With the contractor already on site including the equipment needed and materials, the cost of $366,900 would be far greater if this work was postponed until a later date,” he said.
So, Adkins went back to the drawing board with Budget Manager Jennie Knapp to find a funding source for painting the interior.
“In consultation with the budget manager, our recommendation is to appropriate the money out of the water department funding so we can move forward with an award to move forward with the interior,” he said. “As of the audit closing out fiscal year 2021, the department’s fund balance is slightly over $1.8 million, so thus the comfort level to do so. We’re recommending doing the interior at the same time as the exterior.”
The council unanimously approved the recommendation. At the end of the day, both the exterior of the water tower, at $367,650, and the interior of the tower at $366,900, will be done at the same time. The Art League will fund the placement of their logo on the tower.