MARSHALL - Setting precedents was a topic brought up more than once at Tuesday's meeting of the Marshall City Council - first regarding bids for city street projects, and later over a request from a Marshall resident for a permit to drive a golf cart on city streets. Both issues prompted some discussion among council members and in the case of the permit request, the discussion wasn't ended at the meeting.
Council members were presented with bids for a pair of street reconstruction projects, one for Walker Lane and Park Avenue, and the other for South High Street. Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson said there was additional background on the bids for the council to consider. He said the low bidder was Rogge Excavating, Inc., with a bid of about $499,000. However, the bid did not include a bid bond as required. The bid was still opened and read aloud, following a statement that the Marshall city attorney and city council would determine whether or not to waive the bid's irregularities. Later it was found the bid bond was mistakenly faxed to a wrong number, five minutes after the bid opening time.
City staff recommended the council approve the next lowest bid of about $540,000 from D&G Excavating. However, Olson said the council needed to review the Rogge Excavating bid.
Council members questioned why the Rogge Excavating bid was read at all, if it did not include a bid bond. City Attorney Dennis Simpson said he thought the city had the right to read the bid, as a decision to award bids was not being made at the opening.
Council member Dan Ritter said he was concerned about the council "making concessions as we go" on the issue.
"I think the bid has to be thrown out," said council member Larry Doom.
Council member Charlie Sanow said he found council members' reactions funny, after the way they voted on proposals for the former Marshall-Lyon County Library building. Instead of accepting one of two finalist proposals, he said, the city accepted a third offer from Lyon County.
Other council members replied that the library RFPs were a different kind of issue. In the end, council members voted unanimously in favor of awarding D&G the bid and not opening future bids that did not include bid bonds.
The second discussion of city precedents came in response to a request from Marshall resident Karen Meister for a special vehicle permit to drive a golf cart on city streets. Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig said Marshall Public Safety Director Rob Yant recommended granting Meister a permit to drive a golf cart between her residence and the Marshall Golf Course. However, Karen and Steven Meister said they had requested the permit to be able to run errands around town.
The golf cart would be more economical for short trips than a car, Steven Meister said. He said they would also avoid driving the cart on major highways, and only licensed drivers would be allowed to use it.
Council members said they were concerned whether granting the permit for the purpose the Meisters requested would open the door to misuse of golf carts, or ATVs on city streets.
"That would set a precedent we haven't gone down before," said Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes.
Council members voted unanimously to refer the issue to the city Legislative and Ordinance Committee.
The Meisters also said they had already purchased a golf cart because a vehicle identification number, registration and a photograph of the cart were required in order to apply for the vehicle permit. Ritter said that rule also needed to be looked at.