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County resolves bond snafu by accepting lower price

Because the project is nearly finished and almost all checked out, the St. Croix County Finance Committee agreed to accept a cut in price, rather than a performance bond, for communications equipment.

In May the county hired BearCom Wireless Worldwide to install equipment that will allow emergency dispatchers to locate cell phone users who dial 911.

Gary Kollman, director of the county's emergency communications center, said the purchase order for the project was signed May 30. BearCom was given 20 days to provide a performance bond.

"The project went very quickly," said Kollman. Six weeks into the project, a BearCom representative asked if the county still wanted the bond and offered a price reduction instead.

"I felt that there really was no risk to the county," said Kollman of his reaction. He said the county hadn't paid for any of the work, the equipment is covered by other guarantees, the mapping that still needs to be done is being done by another company, and the remaining BearCom work is minor.

Kollman said everything BearCom supplied met county specifications and the dispatch center switched over to the new equipment in August.

Corporation Counsel Greg Timmerman said the county has gotten a fax of a lien waiver from the company that provided most of the equipment.

The total cost of the BearCom contract is $331,257. The company offered to knock $11,200 off that price.

BearCom representative David Fidelman said when the contract was approved, he sent all the information for the performance bond to the company's headquarters in Texas.

"I thought it was put to bed," said Fidelman. But BearCom was in the process of switching insurance companies.

"They kept confusing this with a bid bond," said Fidelman. Meanwhile, the E911 equipment was delivered and installed.

Now, Fidelman said, the company is offering to take $11,200 off the contract price for failure to provide the bond.

While he doesn't like the idea of setting a precedent, he recognizes "the oddity that we're starting to use equipment that we haven't paid for," said County Board Chairman Buck Malick.

The purpose of a performance bond is to assure that equipment is installed and works, said Supervisor Daryl Standafer. "As a practical matter, it is what it is and we are where we are."

The committee agreed to accept the $11,200 discount, to pay $300,000 now and to pay the balance when all the work is done.