This is a taxpayer's suit wherein it is alleged that the Union Township Board of Education (hereinafter referred to as the "board"), violated the provisions of the separate bid statute, N.J.S.A. 18:11-10, applicable to school construction, when it amended its specifications for the additions and alterations to Burnet Junior High School.
Original specifications were prepared for the board in August 1966 by the engineering firm of Morrison, Zimmer and Borton, in conjunction with the architectural firm of Elsasser and Miller. Since the existing school buildings were steam and hot water heated and because the existing boiler capacity was not fully utilized, a portion of the proposed additional building was to be steam heated. The balance of the addition, namely, the south wing, was to be electrically heated. It is only the electrically heated portion of the proposed school addition with which the court is presently concerned.
The original specifications for the south wing provided for the supply and installation of the following heating and ventilating apparatus: unit heaters, cabinet heaters, convectors, sill line radiation, electric duct heaters, unit ventilators (packaged syncretizers), large volume air handling units, roof fans, roof ventilators, air conditioning units, and automatic temperature controls. All of the above equipment was to be electrically energized. However, all of the equipment was prepackaged, i.e., all of the internal wiring was performed by
the manufacturers of the specific units, and the only work to be done on the job site was the physical installation of the pre-wired unit and the attaching of the power wiring to the unit from the source of the electrical energy.
The original specifications established three categories for separate bids for the heating and ventilating equipment: (a) ventilating and air conditioning, (b) heating and automatic temperature control, and (c) electrical, heating and automatic temperature control, which included the external field wiring for all of the equipment. These categories were established allegedly pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18:11-10 which provides:
"In the erection, construction, alteration or repair of a public school building, when the entire cost of the work will exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000.00) in amount, the board of education shall, in the manner provided by law, advertise for and receive separate bids for the plumbing and gas fitting, and all work kindred thereto, the steam and hot water heating and ventilating apparatus, steam power plants and all work kindred thereto, and electrical work, structural steel and ornamental iron work. The board shall award contracts for such work to the lowest responsible bidder for each of such branches respectively."
The original specifications allocated the heating and ventilating equipment to the various categories as follows:
Ventilating and Air Conditioning
Large volume air handling units
Electrical, Heating and Automatic Temperature Control