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City to bid out office renovation

COVINGTON - The city council agreed Monday night to bid out a project to renovate the mayor's office at City Hall.

The council previously awarded the contract to Atlanta-based DARIO/Associates Inc. for a designer's fee of $6,000. Interior designer Susan Dario provided a cost estimate for the project of $25,802, putting the total project cost at nearly $32,000.

"There was so much confusion surrounding that decision that we decided to revote and put it out for bid," Carter said.

The project will be advertised with a scope of work included, she said.

"We'll take every opportunity, whatever selections are made, to shop locally," she said.

The mayor asked the City Clerk to correct the minutes to reflect that the council approved, at its June 2 meeting, a "sole bid" for $6,000.

However, initially the project did not go through the bid process. When asked during the June 2 meeting by a council member why the project was not put up for bid, Carter replied that she has a personal relationship with the designer, who gave the city a discounted rate. Dario is a client of Business Works Solutions Inc., Carter's consulting, bookkeeping and payroll solutions company.

The council was deadlocked 3 to 3 on whether to approve the contract, with Carter breaking the tie.

Carter said the city is only required to bid out capitol projects that cost more than $100,000.

City Attorney Ed Crudup said that while there is no requirement that the city bid such projects, it's "common practice" for the city to do so.

Bids were solicited for smaller renovation projects, including carpeting in various offices at City Hall and the purchase of 12 new chairs for the conference room. Bids for carpeting ranged from $1,500 to $2,000; the cost for the chairs ranged from $1,940 to $4,368.

Most of the furniture has been in the office since the city moved its administrative offices to City Hall in 1994, City Manager Steven Horton said.

Carter said the furnishings are worn out or in disrepair, that anyone who sits on the sofa will "sink to the bottom," the desk is scratched and the lighting is poor.

She said it's important to make a good first impression when entertaining state and federal officials, as well as representatives from agencies such as the Georgia Department of Transportation.

She said the office is used by council members and city staff, and said it's not the mayor's office, but an elected officials office.

"I wouldn't say it's my office. I would say it's our office," she said.

Whatever furnishings are selected, Carter said council will have final approval of all purchase orders.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.