Raymondville picks Guzman & Muñoz for $2 million project

RAYMONDVILLE — Engineer Joe Muñoz will oversee a $2 million water tower repair project — even though he wasn’t the first pick for the job.

Earlier this month, a scoring committee made up of Mayor Gilbert Gonzales, City Commissioner Edward Gonzalez and city officials ranked Brownsville-based Ambiotec Civil Engineering Group as the top-scoring engineering firm to work on the project to be funded through a $2 million to $2.4 million Texas Water Development Board loan.

However, Commissioner Clifton Smith requested commissioners rank the engineering firms applying for the job during the Oct. 8 meeting.

Yesterday, Smith did not respond to a message requesting comment.

“There was some feeling among commissioners that there wasn’t a level playing field,” Gonzalez said yesterday, referring to factors that led Smith to request commissioners rank the engineering firms. “In some cases, commissioners want a more hands-on approach.”

After City Attorney Ryan Solis said commissioners were authorized to rank the firms, commissioners’ scores gave the job to Mercedes-based Guzman & Muñoz Eningeering & Surveying and Joe Muñoz, the city-contracted engineer.

“It was a couple of points between one and two,” City Manager Eleazar Garcia said yesterday, referring to the margin separating Guzman & Muñoz and Ambiotec.

The firms were ranked based on criteria including experience and capacity to perform as well as time and project management, Gonzalez said.

“We had some wonderful applicants who were all well prepared,” he said, adding the scores he gave the engineering firms didn’t change during the second round of rankings. “Joe has been a consistent presence in the county for several years. He checked on all criteria.”

The mayor said the commissioners’ decision to rank the firms marked the first time they have overruled a scoring committee since he won office about five years ago.

“Commissioners have the final say,” the mayor said.

Guzman & Muñoz

About a year ago, Muñoz replaced Ambiotec as the city’s contracted engineer.

Before Ambiotec worked as the city’s engineer, Muñoz had served in the position for about 20 years, overseeing projects including the new police station, Veterans Park and the Rural Technical Building as well as the renovations of City Hall and the Raymondville Municipal Golf Course pro shop.

The Water Development Board required city officials select an engineer for the project, Garcia said.

During that same meeting, commissioners also considered selecting a financial advisor and bond counsel.

The project

Officials plan to fund the project through the Water Development Board’s low-interest loan, Garcia said.

Garcia said the project will include repairing and painting three water towers.

“We repaired and patched them through the years,” he said.

Garcia said the city’s most recent repairs came about 10 years ago.

“Everybody has to give them maintenance,” he said.

As part of the project, officials will replace galvanized water lines with PVC pipe while also upgrading fire hydrants.