For the past three summers, employees have worked without a fully functioning air conditioning unit.
“We had one very, very bad day where people actually took sick time and went home,” assistant purchasing agent Cathy Tyls recalled. “It was over 95 degrees and nothing was working.”
Fair Lawn-based , which has been contracted to repair the borough's chiller, has been doing its best to keep the current system going, Tyls said, but even with maintenance adjustments, it works only intermittently.
“Some days you come in and you’re freezing, some days it’s bearable, some days by 1 p.m., you’re dying,” borough manager Tom Metzler said.
At long last, however, municipal building employees will be getting a consistently cool breeze of relief – even if it's just in time for fall.
Last week, borough council approved Reiner’s $157,000 bid to install a new chiller in the building.
It was the third time the borough had gone out to bid on the chiller.
“The first time we went out was over budget,” Tyls explained. “The second time we went out to bid, Reiner came in with a sub. Unfortunately they forgot to attach the detailed specifications of the sub, which were required at the time of receipt of bid.”
Rather than accept the next lowest bid, which exceed Reiner's by $100,000, the borough rejected all bids in hopes of saving money by rebidding again.
The decision to reject all bids did not please DeSesa Engineering, the second lowest bidder, which threatened to sue the town if it went out to bid for the chiller a third time.
“They threatened us that their bid was the lowest responsible bid, bidding exactly what we wanted,” Tyls said. “But with the finances, we would like to save the borough $100,000."
On the advice of borough attorney Ron Mondello, council decided to ignore the jilted bidder and put the chiller out to bid again.
The move paid off. Reiner entered an acceptable bid and the borough will now reap the financial reward.
“Council should be commended,” Mondello said after its members approved Reiner’s bid at last week’s work session, “because the attorney for DeSesa said, unequivocally, ‘I am suing you if you go out to bid again,’ and we passed the resolution, we went out to bid and you saved at least $100,000.”
This time around, rather than coming in $100,000 more than Reiner, DeSesa put in an $800,000 bid to, as Mondello put it, “send a message.”
In the worst case scenario, Metzler said the new chiller should arrive in about nine weeks, although he expects its installation will be expedited.