City council members debate lead pipe replacement plan in Saginaw

SAGINAW, Mich. (WNEM) – Saginaw City Council has decided not to award a contract to a company recommended by City Hall to replace lead water pipes in the city.

The decision could jeopardize the fate of a $4 million loan the city received from the state last year.

“As a member of the city council, I gave up to watch over the money we spent. So I would say let’s go with the lowest bidder,” said Saginaw Mayor Pro Tem Michael Balls.

The city council decided not to award a $7.2 million contract to replace drinking water mains to a company recommended by city hall employees.

During its June 20 meeting, the council was due to vote on a proposal to hire one of two qualified bidders to replace 720 lead pipes over the next three years.

Some council members felt that a third company that submitted a bid of half the lowest bid should be awarded the contract.

“It’s really important that we do our due diligence. I’m not sure I’m not sure I want the most qualified person,” said Saginaw Mayor Brenda Moore.

Moore said she’s never seen anything like it before, but says it’s not about the cost of the contract, it’s about the quality of the work.

“I don’t want to end up like Flint, I don’t want any of the residents to end up like Flint. I want them to turn off their water and the water to be clear,” Moore said.

The state grant in question has a July 6 deadline to hire a contractor for the job.

However, the city administration is working on an extension.

“We’re working on an extension. And if we’re not granted, we’ll call, I’ll call an emergency meeting,” Moore said.

The battle between quality and price continues.

“I want them to prove to the city that they can’t do the job before you give $10 million to someone else,” Balls said.

Mayor Moore said once the contract is awarded, work to replace the lines should begin immediately.

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