Renovations to turn the Rock Building into the Payson Unified School District’s administrative office could begin this spring.
The school board approved on Wednesday the maximum price of roughly $850,000, which allows contractor W.E. O’Neil to solicit bids from pre-qualified contractors.
The $33.8-million bond voters approved in 2006 will finance the work.
Board member Richard Meyer pushed on Wednesday to accept bids from the public at large. “To me, a lot of it is perception whether due diligence was done,” he said.
Some in the community have complained that too few local contractors have been hired to work on the district’s bond projects, which include the new Julia Randall Elementary School, along with extensive work and a new building at Rim Country Middle School.
“I can’t let it open to everybody that walks to the door and says I’m a plumber,” said Mike Marr of W.E. O’Neil.
Marr said 22 percent of the total contract value has been awarded to local contractors. The company does not award bids for work solely based on price. Marr said he must balance price with quality of work, and he said he looks for the “responsible and responsive low bid.”
Most local contractors don’t have the bonding capacity for larger projects like the $15 million Julia Randall Elementary, Marr said. However, he said the Rock Building’s smaller scope could allow more local competition for work. The schoolhouse building was built in 1935.
The board has not yet decided what to do with the current district offices. One possibility is moving the Payson Center for Success there. That would cost roughly $100,000, which is not included in the bond.
At the Rock Building, the gym will become the new board room and the main floor area will turn into office space.