EAST ROCKHILL – After rejecting two previous rounds of bids for the planned renovations and addition to the municipal offices building, the East Rockhill Township Board of Supervisors got new bids at the board's Nov. 26 meeting.

The first time around, in July, bids totaling $797,000 were rejected after the board said the price was more than had been expected.

The next time, in September, the prices were still over $750,000 and once again were rejected.

For the November bids, the township tried to put together a plan that would include the best parts of the bids received during the previous two tries, Steve Baluh, township engineer, said. There were some new bidders, along with some returning ones, he said. 

This time the low bids came in at a combined $776,524, he said.

“This includes a substantial part of renovation of the existing building, as well as the 1800 square foot addition,” Baluh said.

The plans include enlarging the township meeting room and moving it to the front of the building, increased security, and improvements to make the building better for public and employee use, according to information previously given.

In answer to a question from board Chairman Gary Volovnik, Baluh said the actual price could be up to the bid amount, but also could be less.

“There is a value engineering clause in the contract specifications, which allows the township to have discussions with the low bidders as to some potential changes, cost saving changes, in the design or construction,” he said.

The low bids, which were subsequently approved by the board, were Gordon H. Baver, Inc., at $649,000, for general construction; K.C. Mechanical, at $48,000, for mechanical construction; MJF Electrical Contracting, at $49,549, for electrical construction; and Membrino Construction, at $29,975, for plumbing construction.

“It's a lot of money. I don't make this decision lightly, but it has to be done,” board member Jim Nietupski said.

In answer to his question, Township Manager Marianne Morano said the building is at least 50 years old and the last time improvements were made was 25 years ago.

“This building was built by the tech school,” board member David Nyman said.

While that saved money for the municipality, it would not be possible under current laws, township officials said.

“The reality is we do not have to raise taxes to do this. We can do this within the funds that we have now,” Nyman said. “We do have the ability to borrow some money. We also have money in a capital improvement fund that we can put towards this, so there's no tax increase needed.”

In October, the board approved borrowing up to $550,000 from QNB for seven years at 2.95 percent interest to pay for a portion of the work. At the November meeting, Patrick Armstrong, the township's solicitor, said the state Department of Community and Economic Development has given its approval for the loan.

Asked when the work will start, Baluh said it would be after the beginning of 2020.

When the current Pennridge Regional Police station was built, groundbreaking was held in the middle of the winter, which could happen again in this case, Nietupski said.

That might happen, but it could also be spring before the work starts, Baluh said.

Township meetings are expected to continue to be held in the building during the construction, township officials said.   

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