Burgesses raise concerns with bidding practice
While the Board of Mayor and Burgesses was discussing bids on an item that the police department requested last Tuesday night, Burgess Ronald San Angelo raised concerns with the fact that only one bid was submitted.
“This is the same kind of thing we’ve been going through for the past couple of months. We only have one bid again,” San Angelo said.
San Angelo told the board he was concerned with the effort that was put into attracting bidders and wondered what the borough could do differently.
Wendy Hozer, purchasing agent for the borough, explained after the meeting that when a project goes out to bid, it’s published in local newspapers, e-mailed to companies on a borough-maintained list, and placed on the borough’s website.
According to Hozer, the amount of bids coming in has been relatively the same over recent years and the economy has not had a noticeable affect on the bids.
Burgess Michael Bronko told the board that he was also concerned about the number of bids and how potential bidders could pick up the bid packets.
“You can pick up bid packets two ways. One way is, you can come to the town hall, pick up the packet, and pay $50. Or, this says you can go online, and download the packet there for no cost,” Bronko said.
Bronko told the board he tried to download a packet, only to find that it wasn’t there for him to download. He felt that this is one of the ways that the borough is losing potential bids.
San Angelo questioned why the borough was charging potential bidders $50 to pick up a bid packet.
“I’m a little baffled because, as I think about it, we’re trying to get companies to give us a low bid. These companies are bidding, not knowing if they’re going to get the job or not. It’s a lot of time and effort and cost to these companies to do these bids. On top of that, we’re saying, if you even think about doing business with us it will cost you $50,” San Angelo said.
Director of Public Works Jim Stewart explained that this cost reflected the costs to the borough.
“Sometimes we bid out rather big bid packages that cost us hundreds and hundreds of dollars to print. So it has been standard practice to charge them for it because contractors will get five or six sets if we don’t charge them for it,” Stewart said.
Stewart said that a few years ago the borough began moving towards putting everything on the computer and changed the price to $50 to offset the cost of printing the bid packages, since only a certain number of packages are printed once the bid is issued.
San Angelo felt that charging the bidders was still not a good idea, even if it represented a short term loss to the town.
“We’re talking about large ones, which are hundreds of thousands of dollars in bids. If it cost’s us a $1,000 to go out to bid and make sure we get more contractors, isn’t it worth that $1,000 to make sure we have more bidders,” San Angelo said. “From my point of view, $50 is a mistake.”
San Angelo felt that doing this would bring in lower bids, which would ultimately save more than it is costing.
Mayor Robert Mezzo said that this could be a good idea, until budget season comes and supplies are cut by 10 percent. However, he does not believe that the cost of printing is the main factor in driving more bids.
“The overriding issue is I think we have issues in the purchasing department in the borough and Board of Education. It’s not the fault of anybody there, it’s just that the world has changed how bids are procured,” Mezzo said.
Mezzo didn’t elaborate on the issues he was referring to and added there is no easy answer to why the borough may receive only bid for a job.
The idea of hiring a consultant to review the issue was mentioned, but no action was taken as the matter was not on the board’s agenda.