The Farmingdale Board of Selectmen may have to call a special town meeting to raise more money for snowplowing because the only bid opened at its meeting Wednesday is significantly higher than what residents approved in June.

The bid of $811,965 for three years from McGee Construction is also nearly double the price of the winter road maintenance contract the board and the previous contractor agreed to terminate last month. The board and Ellis Construction agreed to part ways after only a year into the three-year, $487,500 contract because it was the target of frequent criticism from a small group of residents at board meetings.

The board drafted a new contract to clear up vague sections that led to disagreements about what the contractor could bill the town for.

The Farmingdale-based Ellis Construction submitted a bid for the new contract, but the board voted to not accept the bid because the company hadn’t attended a mandatory pre-bid meeting Sept. 2

Chairman David Sirois wanted to accept the bid, but the other two board members, James Grant and Nancy Frost, voted to not open it.

The town attorney told Sirois the board should allow Ellis Construction to bid because the board made changes to the contract at the pre-bid meeting, he said. However, Grant said he consulted the Maine Municipal Association, which advised him to not accept the bid.

The bid from West Gardiner-based McGee Construction is $264,000 for the first year, $270,600 for the second and $277,365 for the third. Because residents only approved spending $200,000 for snowplowing this year at June’s Town Meeting, the town can’t pay for the only bid without requesting additional money.

“We could consider throwing out the bid and rebidding it, but frankly, I don’t think it will turn out any different,” Sirois said. “Kind of at a loss here. Just really disappointed how high it was.”

Last year, McGee Construction bid $192,000 for each of the three years. That contract required the contractor to start with nearly 70 percent more sand and salt and to use liquid calcium chloride to pre-wet the mixture. The new contract doesn’t include the liquid brine and related equipment, but it requires an additional plow truck.

Sirois said the board will look into its options and discuss the issue at its meeting Wednesday. The town could call a special town meeting with seven days of notice to residents, according to Town Clerk Rose Webster.

“At this point, I have to wait and see,” Sirois said. “I was anxious to secure a plowing contractor because it’s getting late in the season. There’s not much time left. We’ve got to secure a plowing contractor one way or another. I’m just shaking my head.”

Grant, who made a motion to not accept the bid from Ellis Construction, said he was also a little surprised at how high McGee Construction’s bid was. He said he still thinks it was the right decision to not accept the other bid because Ellis Construction didn’t attend the mandatory pre-bid meeting.

“We as a select board said you are required to attend this. If we don’t enforce the rules set forth as a select board, we’re kind of destroying our own integrity,” Grant said.

Chris Ellis, an owner of Ellis Construction, raised objections about the fairness of the process after the board and the two contractors at the pre-bid meeting, McGee Construction and Farmingdale-based E.C. Barry and Son Construction, agreed to some changes to the contract. They reduced the size of two of the five required snowplow trucks and added wording to the subcontractor section acknowledging that the contractor may lease vehicles or operators even though the select board doesn’t encourage the use of subcontractors

The original contract and last year’s contract said the contractor will not subcontract or transfer any portion of the work without prior written approval from the board.

Ellis said last week that his company originally didn’t plan to bid on the contract because he felt it was too restrictive, and the company already had committed too many of its resources to other plowing jobs. He said he would have gone to the meeting if he had known that changes, specifically that the selectmen were allowing subcontracting, would be made to the contract.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig