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 “Design-Build contract’?”
The design-build contract is a single contract with a design-build firm for the design and construction of a public construction project.
A design-build contract is solicited with the intention that the winning firm would design-build the various improvements identified in the RFQ. “Q” is not based on quotations. It is based on qualifications.
As such, prior to April 2005, when IRC entered into a the Master Design-Build Agreement to Provide Professional Services “to provide professional architecture, site planning, civil, structural and building engineering related work for the planning, design and construction or repair, renovation, retrofitting and improvement of fire stations in Indian River County together with demolition and and removal of stations ruined by storm damage…” the award was based on qualifications rather than bids.
The same was true prior to the next Master Design-Build Agreement entered into on August 11, 2011.
“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 the professional services charged to IRC, in the amount of $ 225,000, which presumably include a profit, were then marked up 10%.
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 Construction.
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.