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Ocean City

City to dock HVAC contractor after neglect of maintenance

(Aug. 9, 2013) For the second time in recent memory, the city has been forced to do some extra work after one of its major service providers gave the resort the brush-off in anticipation of dropping a contract.

This week, the city approved a $16,950 expenditure to repair the chiller system at the convention center, and will be deducting the cost from its final payment to its previous HVAC maintenance contractor, who was allegedly unable to show the proper documentation that it had done required maintenance on the convention center’s cooling system.

The city issues a single contract for routine maintenance of the heating and air conditioning systems in all city-owned buildings, city Public Works Director Hal Adkins said. Johnson Controls held that contract for many years, but the company did not bid on the its renewal this year, and in July the contract was turned over to Electrical Automation Systems, Inc.

Before the contract ended, however, Johnson Controls was allegedly not performing the obligatory maintenance, causing additional wear to the convention center chiller and other apparatus.

“It is the opinion of the company that is about to do the repairs that, had the routine maintenance been completed, some of the repairs and/or replacements that are now necessary could’ve been avoided,” Adkins said.

“Johnson Controls was unable to provide documentation that they had done maintenance as required by contract on the convention center chillers,” Adkins said. “We are currently withholding roughly $58,000 of their annual contract price for items that they are unable to substantiate that they did the maintenance on.”

Adkins said the city had no reason to believe, before July, that Johnson Controls was going to decline to rebid the longstanding contract or was neglecting to complete work in anticipation of doing so.

“When we had the pre-bid meeting, they had representation in the room,” Adkins said. “We had no reason to believe they weren’t interested.”

The city had a similar, but more severe, experience last summer with its trash hauling. The town issues a contract to haul collected waste from its municipal depot to an incinerator plant in Pennsylvania, where it is burned to generate electricity.

The hauling contractor at the time, East Coast Resources, decided that it was no longer in their interest to pursue their deal with the city and that they would not bid on the upcoming contract renewal. In anticipation, they began to scale down their collection efforts, creating a massive trash back up.

“They didn’t seem to understand that, even if they were going to drop the contract, they still had to come pick up all the trash until the contract ended,” Adkins said.


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