ASHLAND — Ashland County commissioners on Thursday rejected the lone bid they received for a stack conveyor machine, an offer that exceeded the estimate by almost $90,000.
“(It’s) back to the drawing board,” said county Engineer Ed Meixner.
The lone bid came in from TCI Manufacturing, an Illinois company, at $287,150, well above the estimate of $200,000.
By state law, government entities cannot accept bids that exceed 10 percent of estimates on purchases. For this purchase, the threshold was $220,000.
Commissioner Denny Bittle said he wasn’t surprised by the high bid, noting the skyrocketing price of steel.
Though the price of steel has remained around the same since November — when the process of getting a new stack conveyor first began for Meixner — prices are still high compared to a year ago, according to Trading Economics, an online commodities tracker.
In November 2020, the price of steel was around $600 per metric ton. Fast forward a year, that price soared to $736. Today, that number hovers around $730.
Prices of steel are forecasted to taper off, but not by much.
But there’s a lot that goes into coming up with an estimate for this type of equipment, Meixner said. The engineer said there’s a process that involves learning about the equipment — what’s needed for the task and what’s wanted.
For example, the stack conveyor machine that TCI quoted includes a diesel motor. There are versions of the equipment that involve a power take-off, or PTO, a device that transfers power to another device typically by using a tractor.
“I need to re-evaluate,” Meixner said. “Obviously, we can’t go on forever. So I’ll re-evaluate it and determine if we want to spend the $300,000 … or do we just want to make what we have work.”
In the meantime, the engineering department will continue to use its repaired machine.
The county first advertised for this piece of equipment in November. There were no bids received on two separate occasions. Thursday represented the third bid opening and the first bid actually received.