Albuquerque company protests LLHS renovation award

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Contractors Bradbury and Stamm continue to protest the Los Lunas High School renovation award to McCarthy Building Company.

McCarthy was awarded the multi-million dollar project by the majority of the Los Lunas Board of Education. Board member Chris Martinez voted against awarding McCarthy the project.

The district started planning the high school renovations about two years ago when the school was rated a priority rebuild by the state.

Last fall, board members approved the schematic designs and educational specifications required by Public School Facility Authority.

Bradbury and Stamm's attorney, Simone M. Seiler of Bauman, Dow and Leon, wrote a letter to the Los Lunas School District's attorney, John Kennedy of Cuddy & McCarthy, requesting that the school district follow the actions of the Santa Fe School District and likewise suspend the contract award to McCarthy.

Included in their petition is a copy of a formal notice of contemplation by the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department issued on June 7.

Cited in the document is possible fraud in the application for residency preference by McCarthy.

McCarthy's application for certification claimed it was a previously certified business or a New Mexico company purchased by another legal entity that operates in the state as substantially the same enterprise.

The Tax and Revenue Department issued a resident contractor preference certificate this year to the McCarthy Building Company on Jan. 19.

What Bradbury and Stamm are relying on is the language in the regulation that states if there is evidence of bad faith and fraud, the revoked certification applies to current projects, and not just future projects, said John Kennedy, the school district's attorney.

"What I do with these every time is, I provide them to the company that is being challenged," Kennedy said. "So, I sent this down to the attorney for McCarthy and I'm not going to do anything with it until I get that response."

The PSFA advised the district to move forward with the project, said Los Lunas Schools Superintendent Bernard Saiz.

"Unless something is determined was done illegally or incorrectly, everything will proceed as planned," Saiz said. "At the time the bid award was made the in-state license for the McCarthy company was valid, so the contract bid at that time is valid.

"Even if we wanted to, we really couldn't change it unless for some reason there's some other adverse action taken that's unforeseeable at this time," he said.

At the time the bid award was made, the district followed all the statutes and regulatory mandates, the superintendent said.

Currently, trenching and fence removal is underway in preparation for demolition of the high school, but demolition won't start for another couple of weeks, Saiz said.

"The sad thing about all this is in the end, it's the school kids that are going to be hurt by this. Los Lunas Schools acted in good faith," Saiz said. "If this protest continues, or it's found the company is not in good standing, it's going to hurt the kids of Los Lunas High … any delays will just impact the students and their education."

Seiler states in the letter that Bradbury and Stamm stand at the ready to assume the renovations at the high school within the time constraints of the project.

What people don't understand is that the one point difference between the two companies came from a half a million dollar difference between the bids, Saiz said.

The McCarthy bid was $500,000 lower than Bradbury Stamm's bid.

"That one point is a half a million taxpayer dollars," Saiz said.

Two other New Mexico school districts awarded McCarthy contracts for building projects, but the Santa Fe School District suspended its project with McCarthy.

"My understanding is, Santa Fe is reconsidering looking at the situation, but they don't even have a piece of property to build their school on yet … both our situation and Los Alamos' is immediate," Saiz said. "We're trying to get as much done as possible before the school year starts. So, we're not in the same situation as Santa Fe is. They really don't have a project starting, so they're not really stopping anything that has already begun."

The Tax and Revenue Department will take the contemplated action unless McCarthy files a request for a hearing within 20 days from the date of the notice.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.