A vendor who was not awarded a bid for a generator transfer switch at the Phelps County Jail, despite being the lowest apparent bidder, asked the Phelps County Commission Tuesday morning to reconsider their decision.
The vendor, Marty Eimer, of Central Security Enterprises (CSE), submitted a letter to County Clerk Carol Bennett Friday which asks the commissioners to “hire a local contractor which happened to have the lowest bid.”
At the Feb. 26 commission meeting, all three commissioners agreed to award the bid for the generator transfer switch to Live Wire Communications Inc. for $45,298.75.
The generator transfer switch has already been ordered from Live Wire, according to Lt. Matt Shults, of the sheriff’s department.
Live Wire was the higher of the two bids received, which were opened Feb. 5. CSE submitted a bid of $39,845.
Eimer’s letter states, “I was surprised, to say the least, to find out that as low bidder on the ATS replacement project for the Phelps County Sheriff’s Office, CSE was not awarded the job. The explanation for your action seems consistent with what you knew about my site visit; it’s just that what you were told was not what I intended to convey.”
While the commission usually awards the lowest and best bid, Sheriff Rick Lisenbe recommended choosing Live Wire “due to the emergency nature of the generator being down and our need to have it repaired as quickly as possible.”
Shults said he was told that CSE could not get the job done until September.
Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp and District Two Commissioner Gary Hicks said the timeline was a crucial factor in the commission’s decision.
Eimer said he and the individual who Shults talked to at CSE “did not mean that CSE would not be able to perform the work until September.” Eimer said CSE is currently doing a project at Missouri University of Science and Technology that would last until September.
“I looked up the estimated shipment date (for the generator transfer switch) and it was six weeks from date of order. We can perform the work immediately after that,” Eimer wrote.
Eimer also said he saw Live Wire’s bid, which he said did not list a time frame.
Hicks said later in the meeting that the request for proposals did not include any clear time frame.
Additionally, Eimer told the commissioners of an option for CSE to use temporary switches “if you cannot wait six weeks, if you feel yourselves to be so vulnerable right now that you need something done this week.”
Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp said he wants to get Lisenbe’s input on Eimer’s letter, but Lisenbe was out of town Tuesday.
Page 2 of 2 - Later on in the meeting after Eimer had left, District One Commissioner Larry Stratman said since the county’s insurance company, the Hartford Company, will pay for the bulk of the repairs and was advised about the project before a decision was made, “anything that the sheriff may advise us to do, we have no opinion on it, but we could go to the insurance company and say hold off until we get this thing squared away.”
Hicks said after talking with Shults, who said the transfer switch has been ordered, Hicks believes, “that ship has already sailed.”
“The good news is that the county taxpayers are not out anymore money because the insurance company is paying for it,” Stratman said.
Stratman also worried whether Eimer’s letter is changing their bid after the fact.
Verkamp called the situation “most unfortunate.”