Investigative Report: For 12 Years a Vero Beach, FL General Contractor has had an Exclusive “Continuing Contract” to Design, Build and Renovate all Indian River County, FL Fire stations.

joe-baird             phil-barth

Joe Baird, Former County Administrator             Phil Barth, Barth Construction, Inc.

THIS IS THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF ARTICLES ABOUT HOW UNDER THE OVERSIGHT OF FORMER INDIAN RIVER COUNTY (IRC) ADMINISTRATOR JOE BAIRD, BARTH CONSTRUCTION, INC. (BARTH) HAS HAD TWO SUCCESSIVE “AGREEMENTS TO PROVIDE PROFESSIONAL DESIGN AND BUILDING SERVICES CONTRACTS TO INDIAN RIVER COUNTY,” TO DESIGN, BUILD AND RENOVATE ALL IRC FIRE STATIONS.

What this means, of course, is that except to the extent Barth Construction, Inc. seeks bids, if it does, as it supposed to, from subcontractors, since 2005 there has been no overall competitive bidding for the building and renovation of all IRC fire stations.

According to the Barth Construction, Inc. website, six fire stations have been built (2, 4, 5, 9, 12, & 13) and four (3, 6, 8, & 10) have been renovated.

What is a “Continuing Contract?”

A “Continuing Contract” is a contract for professional services entered into in accordance with the Florida Design/Builders’ Competitive Negotiations Act, Section 287.055 “whereby an agency (IRC), and a firm (Barth) whereby the firm provides professional services to the agency for projects in which the estimated construction cost of each individual project under the contract does not exceed $ 2 million, for study activity if the fee for professional services under the contract does not exceed $ 200,000…

The agency shall negotiate a contract with the most qualified firm for professional services at compensation is fair, competitive and reasonable and fair.”

Each of the two agreements entered into by IRC and Barth were subject to the Florida Design/Builders’ Competitive Negotiations Act, Section 287.055, as written in each of the two Agreements.

In the Indian River County 2015 “Popular Annual Report for the Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2015,” IRC proudly reported that: The Fire Rescue/EMS Station #13 was completed in 2015 for $ 2.2 million.

Through a public records request, we have obtained the billing for Station # 13 and in addition to the the cost of building station #13 exceeding $ 2 million, the professional services charged to IRC, exceeded $ 200,000.  The professional services, exceeding $ 200,000, which should include a profit, were then marked up 10%.

It would appear the award of building station # 13 to Barth Construction violates the Florida Design/Builders’ Competitive Negotiations Act, Section 287.055.

In fact, at the December 20, 2016 meeting of the IRC Commissioners, with a three to two vote, fire station # 14 was approved and awarded to Barth, which will also have costs exceeding the Design/Builders’ Competitive Negotiations Act, Section 287.055 threshold.

In our next article we will examine the itemized costs of building Station # 13.  Other articles will examine how, in 2005, Barth was selected as the “most qualified firm.”  As well as a lawsuit Barth is facing in connection with a residence in Orchid Island.

station-13

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