The Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority remained committed to its $17.9 million GLF Construction Swing Bridge contract Thursday in a two-hour special meeting at the Boca Grande Community Center Womans Club Room.
GIBA Board member Gay Darsie cast the deciding vote in a 3-2 split decision that avoided a third change of heart on the contract by the board in four months.
GIBA Chairman David Hayes was for a second time unable to muster support for a motion to rebid the contract.
GIBA Attorney Susan Churuti
The ongoing Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority struggle to award its Swing Bridge construction contract had been complicated by a formal protest letter received from Orion Marine Construction of Tampa alleging "unfair" treatment in the bid process.
But the Orion claim GLF had submitted two "non-responsive bids" rather than the required one was decimated at the meeting by GIBA Attorney Susan Churuti, GLF attorney Ira Libanoff and Darsie.
"Feel free to vote your conscience and do the right thing for the people on the island," Churtti said. "The Florida Supreme Court has said you can do whatever is in the best interests of the island."
Libanoff pointed out the provision allowing GIBA to " accept the bid that in its judgment will be in the best interests of (GIBA)."
GLF's bid was always the low bid regardless of format taken into account, Darsie said. Orion had pointed out GLF's bid was different in digital versus print format.
"The only thing GLF is guilty of is trying to pass along savings to (GIBA)," Libanoff said.
David Thornton, Orion senior vice president, said: "I was second bidder. No question about it."
Then he complained about the discrepancies in the GLF bid where the bids did not match in the two formats.
In the end, GIBA decided to stay with the low bidder as it had 17 days earlier on Jan. 20.
Orion, which is already handling the $14 million GIBA fixed bridge jobs, lost out to the $17,874,503 bid from GLF Construction Corp. over its $18,755,840 bid. The difference is $881,337.
Orion's protest followed one filed successfully by GLF. GIBA voted 4-1 Jan. 15 to accept the GLF bid - with Hayes dissenting - roughly 10 weeks after a 4-0 GIBA Board vote Nov. 2 to reject all five bids received. The vote reversal came during a meeting to address a letter of protest from GLF over its low bid being rejected.