Regional talks aim to resolve bid preferences for contractors

Glenwood Springs contractor Mark Gould doesn’t want to have to create a completely separate business based in Mesa County. But he’s prepared to do so if that’s what it takes to keep winning bids there.

New inter-county discussions launched by Garfield County will try to prevent things from coming to that.

The discussions arose from a decision by Garfield County commissioners last year to implement a 5 percent bidding preference to local contractors, with the goal of boosting employment within the county.

This year, the county revised its definition of what’s local to companies headquartered in the county. Kyla Alpha, general manager of United Companies of Mesa County, wrote to Garfield commissioners that the revision means United no longer qualifies, even though it has a Rifle branch office, several gravel pits and other facilities in the county, plus seven employees living there.

“We are confident that we provide more direct stimulus to the citizens of Garfield County than others that qualify as ‘local’ under the current definition,” Alpha wrote.

Gould fears Garfield County’s provisions could result in retaliatory measures in Mesa County that could shut him out of the market there.

Mesa County has a discretionary 5 percent bidding preference for bidders based in the county, but it’s capped at $25,000, which Gould said has enabled him to still submit winning bids there. If Mesa County chose to place no limit on the local preference, he’d no longer be competitive, he said.

“This work has been important to me staying alive as a contractor because there’s not much going on in the Roaring Fork Valley,” he said.

Garfield Commissioner John Martin said discussions with Mesa and Rio Blanco counties will look at a more regional approach to bidding preferences.

“We’re just trying to make it uniform. … We’re not trying to pick on anyone,” he said.

Gould said he favors the regional approach because Western Slope contractors are at a disadvantage bidding against Denver-area companies. Those companies enjoy an advantage because a longer construction season means they have more months to recover the cost of equipment, he said.

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

KEYSTONE — About 4,000 skiers and snowboarders got in one last day on the slopes on Independence Day, the last day of the season at Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin ski resort.

Resort spokeswoman Kimberly Trembearth says it’s the latest the resort has closed since 1997, when it kept running till Aug. 10.

In 2003, the resort stayed open till July 2. It usually stays open until early June.

Arapahoe Basin is known for opening early and closing late because of its elevation, which captures snow sooner and holds onto it longer than many other resorts. The resort’s high point is 13,050 feet above sea level.

Arapahoe Basin’s website says it averages 350 inches of snow a year. The resort also uses snow-making equipment.

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