Recently a young man drove his car through a fence at the southwest corner of the county jail on West O Street.
The police report said he had a medical emergency, according to Dave Scharf, facilities manager for the jail.
The accident left the jail's perimeter unsecured on a Friday afternoon. So jail staff bought fencing from American Fence, using what is called a unit price contract, and put up a temporary fix.
Less than a week later American Fence reinforced the temporary fence, making it more secure, said Scharf.
The quick fix was possible because American Fence has a contract with the City-County Purchasing Office, allowing the company to be considered for smaller jobs that need to be done in a hurry.
There was no long bid process, no wait for a final contract, but the purchasing office knew the company met city standards, was bonded and had adequate insurance.
This is helpful to the jail, which operates 24/7 and often needs to buy items or get work done quickly, said Scharf.
And it is a perfect example of the benefit to what are called unit price contracts, said Bob Walla, purchasing agent.
And Walla is on a recruitment mission, looking for more companies that want to do business with the city and county on smaller jobs without all the time-consuming bid legwork.
The city and county use companies with unit price contracts for 18 different services including plumbing, heating and air conditioning, electrical, demolition and paving.
The purchasing office draws from its current list of 43 companies with unit price contracts for smaller jobs, up to $25,000. But that cost limit is rising to $50,000, so departments will be able to do more work using the unit price contract companies.
The department wants to encourage more small businesses in the region, not just within the city, to consider having unit price contracts, said Walla.
“We are in need of more contractors. We are hoping to build a bigger pool for departments to choose from,” he said about the recruiting efforts.
The city is holding an informational meeting for interested contractors at 10 a.m. Dec. 1 in the City Council Chambers, said Walla.
Unit price contracts are designed to provide construction-type services, primarily repair and maintenance work, for projects up to $50,000 without any formal or informal bids. Approved contractors with unit price contracts complete a price quote sheet based on work the department wants done, said Walla.
The city or county is then able to get the work done right away without a long bid process, Walla said.
Contractors don't have to wait for a final contract which means they can start work on a project sooner and get paid sooner, Walla said.
The city is looking at two-year unit price contracts with two two-year renewals, Walla said.
The city recently added three services to the unit price contract list. The list includes general construction, demolition, fencing, heating and air conditioning, moving, plumbing, electrical and large scale electrical, pavement/concrete, painting, audio-visual repair and replacement, carpet installation, overhead door repair and replacement, irrigation, excavating and dozing, emergency repair and underground utility, roofing, traffic signal.