EL CENTRO — The Imperial County Board of Supervisors declared an imminent state of emergency for a children’s shelter in El Centro following the critical failure of its air conditioning unit in June. The declaration will allow the County-run shelter to start repairs immediately without the lengthy bidding process typical for such projects.
“We have temporary facilities in place that are accommodating the residents,” said John Gay, County director of public works. Gay also noted that several County employees reside at the home to provide on-site assistance and supervision to the children as necessary. But the temporary solution may not last with the current heat.
With summer temperatures pushing toward over 110 degrees in recent weeks, the Betty Jo McNeece Receiving Home has been serviced by a portable chiller since its HVAC system failed. But the Department of Public Works announced that the extreme temperatures and humidity will inevitability cause the portable chiller to malfunction as well.
The McNeese Receiving home, which provides temporary shelter to abused, neglected, and abandoned children up to 17 years old, has a chiller system dating back to 1985. After its failure in June of this year, the Public Works department opted to seek repairs on the unit instead of replacing it.
Typically with such projects, the County would begin a process of soliciting bidders and ensuring that the work is priced competitively. But the looming threat of the portable unit’s failure prompted Public Works to request the Board to declare the situation an imminent emergency situation, allowing for a shorter bidding process.
California’s Public Contract Code allows for a county’s Board of Supervisors to declare an imminent state of emergency by a four-fifths vote.
However, the Board pushed for a wide solicitation of bidders, even asking Public Works to proactively contact individual contractors to submit bids.
“With the shortened bid period, I would like to see the outreach,” said Supervisor Luis Plancarte, “so that the maximum amount of qualified contractors can have an opportunity to bid on this.”
Ralph Cordova, Imperial County Executive Officer, indicated that though the need was urgent, the bidding would still be competitive.
“We will reach out to individual contractors,” confirmed Cordova.
The Board approved the motion to declare the situation an emergency and allow the expedited bidding process with a 4-0 vote, with Supervisor Michael Kelley absent that morning.