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Mecham dissents on sewer contract vote

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San Luis Obispo County supervisors—minus one—approved the second of three major contracts for the Los Osos sewer project.

Supervisor Frank Mecham has voted against the first two contracts to build a collection system for the planned project. On June 19 he voted against a $26.2 million contract and said he had issues with the way the county rejected a lower bid from a separate contractor that didn’t properly submit all its bid documents.

More recently, on July 17, Mecham again voted against a contract, this time for a $28.4 million bid from W.A. Rasic Construction to build the second phase of the sewer’s collection system. County officials added another $2.9 million in contingencies, bringing the total budget for this phase to about $32.4 million.

However, Mecham protested, the contract bid was about 31 percent over the engineer’s estimate, and he worried the county might be heading down a road that would push the total project beyond its roughly $173 million budget.

“I’m really concerned that we’re going to see some cost overruns,” he said.

Supervisor Bruce Gibson, whose district includes the town of Los Osos, fired back that the Nacimiento Water Project, which Mecham championed in his own district, also had bids that went beyond estimates, but that project ultimately finished under budget. And Los Osos, Gibson said, is on track to be about $20 million (20 percent) under budget.

“Where’s the problem there?” Gibson said. “I don’t see the problem.”

Mecham contended that if he believes the project begins to go over budget, he “won’t support it.”

Despite his no vote, the item passed with approval from the remaining four supervisors. Officials from county Public Works will next move on to the contract for the final piece of the collection system: the pumping station.

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