Hall County is taking a few steps forward in pursuing the Glades Farm Reservoir project.
On Monday, the county issued a request for proposals for additional engineering services to prepare for permitting. Firms can apply through June 1.
"This is requesting engineering support. A lot of technical skills go into this process," said Ken Rearden, public works director. "The current firm has technical experience, but it doesn't have pump designers or cost analysis people, and that'll be important soon."
In February, the Hall County Board of Commissioners decided to issue the bid to cut costs on Glades Reservoir by finding a better price for engineering services.
The commissioners were split on the decision to put the services out for a competitive bid, with commissioners Craig Lutz, Scott Gibbs and Ashley Bell voting in favor and Tom Oliver and Billy Powell opposed.
At the board's Feb. 10 meeting, Glades Reservoir consultant Tommy Craig told commissioners he would lower his fees by $5,000 a month. AECOM, the engineering company working on the reservoir, did not lower its fees.
"We've retained help from AECOM, and this can save money by getting another engineer on board," Rearden said.
AECOM will be invited to compete in the bid process, but the county will consider all the qualifications and charges of multiple companies.
The proposal requests permit assistance with the county's permitting firms, modeling firms and environmental firms.
The duties include concept report preparation and validation, preparation of displays for public meetings, surveys and mapping, rate analysis and contract negotiations for the Glades project that includes a dam, reservoir, pump stations, raw water mains, roadway relocations, mitigation and rate analysis.
County staff will evaluate the firms based on qualifications of the professional staff, experience on similar services, performance on past contracts and references for similar services. They will draft a short list and schedule interviews before submitting a proposal to commissioners.
Oliver, who is still against putting the work out for bid, said too much work has been done toward getting the reservoir permitted to involve new companies now.
"I don't think it's a smart move to change the horses now. We're close to submitting the permit in 30-60 days," he said. "AECOM has done extensive work, and it could cost more money if we delay. If we're this close, why would we switch now?"
Oliver wants to see a consistent and smooth process as the county prepares to submit the permit.
"I hope it happens on a timely basis. It's a moving target, and we have to be very persistent and understand that we're dealing with the federal government and other distractions," he said. "We have to keep moving along in a positive way."