Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2014

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Library district sued by local construction company

The Las Vegas area's library district is being sued by a construction company that this month failed to win a contract to build a new library branch.

Core Construction Services of Nevada Inc. sued the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District on Friday in Clark County District Court.

Core says it submitted the lowest "responsive" bid to build the Southwest Library and Service Center, but that the library district then wrongly awarded the contract to competing bidder Martin-Harris Construction Co.

Robb Morss, deputy director of the district, on Wednesday said the district was disappointed that the lawsuit was filed.

"The way the bid was structured, Martin-Harris did come in at the lowest bid," Morss said.

Ground will be broken next month for the library at Rainbow Boulevard and Windmill Lane. When it opens in March 2011, the project will lift the number of Las Vegas-Clark County library branches to 13 in urban areas and 11 in outlying areas, along with one outreach library.

Core's lawsuit says it bid $33.12 million for the project, consisting of a 142,000-square-foot library, auditorium and administrative service center on a 13.5-acre site.

And while Martin-Harris's bid was lower at $32.34 million, Core says the Martin-Harris bid was "unresponsive," meaning it claims a portion of the bid did not meet the library district bid specifications.

An issue in the lawsuit is a roof-mounted solar photovoltaic power system proposed for the library. Core says Martin-Harris bid just $25,198 for that component -- a figure Core charges is impossibly low.

Core says a subcontractor selected by both Core and Martin-Harris, Bombard Renewal Energy, quoted both companies a cost of more than $600,000 for the solar system.

Core says the other general contractors bidding for the library job quoted a price of $863,377 to $1.097 million for the solar system. Core itself listed the solar system at a cost of $916,000.

Core's lawsuit also charges the library district gave Martin-Harris an unfair advantage after the bids were opened.

The district realized the solar portion of the Martin-Harris bid was in error and gave Martin-Harris an opportunity to revise it, the suit charges. But having seen the competing bids, Martin-Harris chose not to revise its bid because it knew that revising its bid upward to reflect the correct price for the solar system would cause it to lose the contract, the suit alleges.

But Morss said the district's position is that, in being responsible to taxpayers, it needed to accept the lowest overall bid.

The suit seeks an injunction ordering the library district to throw out the contract award to Martin-Harris and declare Core the lowest responsive bidder.

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