Rather than seek competitive bids, Burlington may use church volunteers for building upgrades – Kenosha News

Burlington Mayor Jeannie Hefty, from left, City Attorney John Bjelajac, City Administrator Carina Walters and then-Alderwoman Ruth Dawidziak are shown in this 2017 file photo inside the City Council Chambers, which is slated for remodeling work that might be turned over to church volunteers.
Dawson
Walters
BURLINGTON — City officials are considering entrusting church volunteers with a construction project in the City Council Chambers as a way of avoiding state rules on competitive bidding.
The church group involves the same professional who had won an estimated $38,000 contract on the job last month, before questions about competitive bidding prompted officials to rescind the contract.
State law requires local governments to solicit competitive bids from contractors whenever spending more than $25,000 on a public construction project.
By turning the City Council Chambers project over to volunteers from LifeBridge Church, 457 Milwaukee Ave., city officials hope to keep the cost below $25,000 and avoid the state’s bidding requirements. The Burlington City Council was scheduled to consider the matter at its meeting Tuesday night.
In a report to the council, City Administrator Carina Walters stated that LifeBridge Church “often looks for projects” and has “proposed to volunteer members of their congregation” for the city’s remodeling job.
Walters declined to comment on whether the church has relevant experience and whether the church has insurance to safeguard against on-the-job injuries or other mishaps.
“Great questions,” she wrote in an email while declining to comment further.
LifeBridge Church Pastor Jon Thorngate said his church has members who are construction professionals who built the church itself and have been involved in other such projects.
“We’ve done a good bit of it,” he said. “We’ve got a team that we’ve put together.”
The church has no bonding for construction projects, Thorngate said, but added that it would check with its insurance company to make sure that adequate coverage is in place before moving ahead with the city project.
About 10 church members would tackle the City Council Chambers if permitted, he said.
The city last month awarded a contract totaling $77,064 for remodeling work inside the City Council Chambers, which is where the City Council meets, next to the police department in the City Hall complex at Pine and Jefferson streets.
The contract included Bob Riggs Construction Co. providing carpentry and project management for $12,400, while the subcontractors included Ketter’s Flooring, $3,576; B. Schneider Electric Inc., $6,548; McDermott Top Shops LLC countertops, $11,840; Hey Burlington audio/video, $38,600; Drywall Plus Inc., $1,750; and T. Larue Painting, $2,350.
City officials did not solicit competitive bids from construction contractors, but rather reached out privately to contractors they either knew or found online.
After construction industry leaders questioned whether the project should have been open to competitive bids under state law, the City Council rescinded the contract. Officials also later said the project would be scaled back to include only audio and video improvements.
The state’s competitive bidding law is designed to ensure fair competition for publicly funded work and to get taxpayers the best possible price.
Bevin Dawson, the proprietor of Hey Burlington audio/video, is a paid staff employee at LifeBridge Church. He is listed on the church’s website as “connection director.”
Dawson was awarded the $38,600 no-bid city contract last month through his company, B. Dawson Automation LLC, doing business as Hey Burlington.
After the contract was rescinded, Dawson said, he and others at LifeBridge Church decided to step forward and offer their services to the city on a volunteer basis.
“We just wanted to help them out,” he said.
Dawson declined to comment further, referring questions to Thorngate. The church pastor said Dawson is a paid part-time employee of the church, but that he and others would be volunteering their time for the City Council Chambers project free of charge.
The proposal before the City Council on Tuesday called for church volunteers to equip the council chambers with new video and audio equipment, including four cameras, 16 microphones, two TV sets, two wireless microphones, and four speakers, and to paint the entire chambers room.
The city would supply all of the audio/video hardware and the paint at a cost not to exceed $25,000.
LifeBridge Church officials are offering to do the job Oct. 10 as part of a citywide volunteer outreach.
Thorngate said that although many church members have worked on similar audio/video projects in the past, he added: “Others — this is probably the first one.”
A row of Among Us drawings laid out onto a table at the Main Project & Café, located on 1014 State St. The Main Project was hosting an event to give free haircuts and hairstyles and back-to-school supplies to children and vaccines for eligible community members on Thursday, August 26.
Avelina McIntosh, 1, holds an Among Us drawing and stands next to a unicorn baloon at the Main Project & Café, located on 1014 State St. The Main Project was hosting an event to give free haircuts and hairstyles and back-to-school supplies to children and vaccines for eligible community members on Thursday, August 26.
Barber Cardell Gallagher shaves the sides of Deelonte, 8, as part of a free haircut event at the Main Project & Café, located on 1014 State St. The Main Project was hosting an event to give free haircuts and hairstyles and back-to-school supplies to children and vaccines for eligible community members on Thursday, August 26.
Children getting creative and coloring in their drawings on a table at the Main Project & Café, located on 1014 State St. The Main Project was hosting an event to give free haircuts and hairstyles and back-to-school supplies to children and vaccines for eligible community members on Thursday, August 26.
Children getting creative and coloring in their drawings on a table at the Main Project & Café, located on 1014 State St. The Main Project was hosting an event to give free haircuts and hairstyles and back-to-school supplies to children and vaccines for eligible community members on Thursday, August 26.
Children being handed out school supplies by organizers and volunteers at the Main Project & Café, located on 1014 State St. The Main Project was hosting an event to give free haircuts and hairstyles and back-to-school supplies to children and vaccines for eligible community members on Thursday, August 26.
Children being handed out school supplies by organizers and volunteers at the Main Project & Café, located on 1014 State St. The Main Project was hosting an event to give free haircuts and hairstyles and back-to-school supplies to children and vaccines for eligible community members on Thursday, August 26.
Leanna Johnson is handing out school supplies and putting them into bags for children at the Main Project & Café, located on 1014 State St. The Main Project was hosting an event to give free haircuts and hairstyles and back-to-school supplies to children and vaccines for eligible community members on Thursday, August 26.
Leanna Johnson is handing out school supplies and putting them into a bag for a child at the Main Project & Café, located on 1014 State St. The Main Project was hosting an event to give free haircuts and hairstyles and back-to-school supplies to children and vaccines for eligible community members on Thursday, August 26.
Nyzeer Williams, 6, gets his haircut from Salem Boussoufi at the Main Project & Café, located on 1014 State St. The Main Project was hosting an event to give free haircuts and back-to-school supplies to children, as well as vaccines for eligible community members, on Thursday.
Barber Tarez Vaughn gives Colton McIntosh, 5, a haircut at the Main Project & Café, 1014 State St., on Thursday. The Main Project was hosting an event to give free haircuts, hairstyles and school supplies to children and vaccines for eligible community members. For additional photos from this event, go to JournalTimes.com/gallery.

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Burlington Mayor Jeannie Hefty, from left, City Attorney John Bjelajac, City Administrator Carina Walters and then-Alderwoman Ruth Dawidziak are shown in this 2017 file photo inside the City Council Chambers, which is slated for remodeling work that might be turned over to church volunteers.
Dawson
Walters
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