A 3-3 council split over the $47,000 cost of water utility equipment led Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna to cast a rare tiebreaker vote last night.

With that, the council approved a change order that will allow for the installation of a 39-foot diameter cover for an open-air, pre-treatment water clarifier at the Chestnut Street well.

Departing Councilman RJ Bifani, who did not seek re-election last week, chided the three opponents, including fellow Democrat Michael DuPont, for their positions. “You’re all wrong” on the issue, he said.

On the table was a project change order. Borough Engineer Richard Kosenski of T&M Associates told the council that because of an error he was responsible for, the bid specifications for the job called for a 30-foot cover instead of a 39-footer. Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels said afterward that a typographical error appears to have been involved.

When the winning bidder, Electrical Design and Construction Corp., discovered the discrepancy, it increased the cost of the aluminum and fiberglass lid. Both Kosenski and Sickels said the borough would have had to pay the $47,000 sum in any event, but that rejecting the change order last night would require a re-bidding of the job, which would add to the cost.

The resolution on the matter, however, says that approval “will result in a net increase of $47,000.00 in the cost of the project.” Download 07-233.pdf

The vote on a resolution to allow the change order ignited Republican Councilman John Curley, who in September teed up a series of change orders on the renovations to the public library.

Regardless of the fact that the cost didn’t change, “That’s a lousy way of doing business,” said Curley, who voted no on the resolution. Pressed by Bifani on how he would handle the matter given the circumstances, Curley replied, “I would cal T&M on the carpet and I would raise holy hell.”

“I’m opposed to the change order too, but that doesn’t change the fact that we’ve got to approve it,” said Council President Sharon Lee.

Bifani, Lee and Art Murphy voted yes to approve the change order. Joining Curley in opposition were fellow Republican Grace Cangemi and Curley’s Democratic sparring partner, Michael DuPont, who argued that the vendor, EDC, was to blame for not verifying the specs before bidding.

“The vendor didn’t do the job,” DuPont said. “The vendor is trying to make up a mistake they made and push it on the borough.”

Sickels, though, said that bid specs called for the vendor to verify the measurement before ordering the materials, not before bidding.

The lid is required under federal Homeland Security regulations to protect the water supply and doesn’t in an way inhibit the functioning of the clarifier, Sickels told redbankgreen afterward.

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