Del Mar school board approves adoption of the California Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Act

By Karen Billing

The Del Mar Union School District board approved the adoption of the California Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Act (CUPCCAA) at its Sept. 25 meeting in a 3-1 vote. The resolution allows construction projects to start sooner as a result of an expedited award process, reduces the amount of formal bids and provides for effective contractor selection through a pre-qualification process.

Doug Perkins voted against the resolution.

“I think it may end up being a good thing but I have too many questions,” said Perkins, who was concerned that once the district adopted CUPCCAA they can’t go through a normal bid process.

Brenda Gachuz-Heskett, the district’s business services coordinator, said not having to go through the formal bid process will be helpful in many cases, especially when unexpected problems arise, such as Carmel Del Mar’s sewer line repair last year.

“For smaller school districts and limited staff it really makes projects start and be completed faster,” said Gachuz-Heskett.

The CUPCCAA program was created in 1983 to provide public agencies the option to utilize higher bid limits and to complete public works projects in a time-efficient manner. Gachuz-Heskett said many California public agencies have adopted the act, including 194 cities, among them Del Mar, 37 counties and 289 school districts, including Cardiff School District.

With CUPCCAA, the district would maintain a list of registered contractors identified by categories of work. A notice would be sent to all construction trade journals inviting licensed contractors to submit their firms for inclusion on the district’s list. The district can pre-qualify those contractors.

Currently, public works projects of $15,000 or more must go through a formal bid process which requires advertising in a local newspaper for two weeks and pre-bid conferences or meetings before a bid is awarded via board approval.

With CUPCCAA, public works projects of $45,000 or less would be able to be awarded with a negotiated contract or purchase order.

Although he voted in favor of the resolution, board president Doug Rafner expressed some concerns about the appearance of favoritism for projects that fall under the $45,000 threshold.

Projects $175,000 or less would go through an informal bidding process and those more than $175,000 would go through the formal bidding process.

With informal bids, all registered contractors on the list will be noticed and they have 10 days to submit a bid. The board can delegate the authority to award informal contracts to the superintendent or staff.

With the formal bid process, bids must meet standard bids but an advertisement is made at least 14 days prior to opening of bids and a 15-day notice sent to all contractors on the list, mandated trade journals or both.