Mayor Jack Ford said yesterday he intends to award a $40 million contract, one of the city's largest ever, to a Fremont construction company, after the company agreed to boost its minority subcontracting percentage.
Mayor Ford said he will sign the contract with low bidder Mosser Construction Inc. to build a facility at Toledo's Bay View Park wastewater treatment plant to process 185 million gallons of sewage a day.
The contract award was decided as Mr. Ford defended comments he made in a weekly African-American newspaper suggesting that he thought white contractors would like to do away with minority contracting goals.
The city's official goal is to award 7 percent of professional services contracts and 12.3 percent of construction contracts to minority business enterprises. Mr. Ford said he ran on a platform of enforcing those goals.
Mosser has agreed to subcontract 12.4 percent of $30.8 million of its contract to minority firms.
To help boost the percentage from the 5 percent Mosser originally proposed, the administration removed a $9.2-million portion from the minority contracting calculations because the money is for proprietary equipment that was specified in the contract.
Mosser's $40 million bid was the lowest of five, which were opened March 8. The next-lowest bid was $46.9 million, and the highest was $50.8 million.
Charles Moyer, Mosser's senior vice president, said that "it took a lot of effort" to reach the 12.4 percent goal, given the size of the contract and the available pool of minority contractors.
The contract is the biggest awarded yet as part of Toledo's $450 million, 15-year wastewater treatment upgrade, according to Robert Williams, director of Toledo Waterways Initiative.
Yulanda McCarty-Harris, the city's director of affirmative action-contract compliance and purchasing, said she believes it is the largest single city contract ever.
In all, $3.8 million will be awarded to minority contractors with Mosser. The largest are Powell's Trucking Group Inc., of Toledo, with a contract of $1.3 million for trucking and aggregate; KLE Construction Co., of Akron, $1.3 million for reinforcing steel, and Mondo Mechanical Co., of Toledo, $957,000,
for mechanical work. Six other minority-owned firms would receive the remaining contracts of between $4,000 and $62,200.
Mosser will build a "ballasted flocculation facility" as part of a planned $80 million complex to go up next to the wastewater plant on part of the city-owned retirees' golf course on Summit Street.
The facility will treat sewage that overwhelms the city's normal treatment capacity during wet weather.
The contract award occurred as Mr. Ford responded to controversy over comments attributed to him in the Toledo Journal.
In the March 23 article, Mr. Ford urged the Minority Contractors Group to support his mayoral re-election effort because of his commitment to diversity in the awarding of city contracts.
The mayor told the group that getting the white business community to meet minority subcontracting goals is "like pulling teeth."
"There are people who don't believe in it, who think that it should be the way it was in 1950," Mr. Ford said.
Yesterday Mr. Ford stuck by his comments, and said he has made similar remarks at least 30 times.
"If people can get all of the contracts and not have to deal with minority participation, a certain number will," Mr. Ford said. "We have to negotiate and negotiate and negotiate with certain vendors to get any kind of minority participation."
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