Q During litigation relating to a construction project an estimate was determined for completion of the project. When bids were solicited after settlement of the litigation, the lowest bid received was significantly higher than the earlier estimates. The board has not specifically allocated any funds for this project. May the board negotiate with the low bidder to reduce the price?

A Section 31-7-13(d)(iv) authorizes negotiation with the low bidder when the lowest and best bid is not more than 10% above the funds allocated. As no funds had been allocated for the project, this Section does not apply. In certain circumstances, however, a municipality may seek a reduction of the bid amount. A municipality may enter into discussion with the lowest and best bidder only and, provided there is no alteration or change whatsoever in the specifications and terms of the proposed construction as specified in the invitation for bids, enter into a construction contract at an amount lower than the lowest and best bid. (Attorney Generalís Opinion to Harper, June 7, 2013)