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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Council affirms commitment to low bids over local ones

  • A month after turning down the low bid in favor of a local bid for a pickup truck, the Rolla City Council came down firmly in favor of always accepting the low bid, no matter how little the difference might be between the low bid and the local bid.
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  • A month after turning down the low bid in favor of a local bid for a pickup truck, the Rolla City Council came down firmly in favor of always accepting the low bid, no matter how little the difference might be between the low bid and the local bid.
    And that’s the way it’s going to stay.
    At least—maybe—until next time.
    “We seem to be all over the map on this,” said Third Ward Councilman Kelly Long at one point in the discussion.
    That about summed it up.
    It was just last month, the first meeting of October, as a matter of fact, that the council heard a presentation from Police Chief Mark Kearse on bids for a 2014 Ford F150 to be used as an animal control vehicle.
    Kearse said Joe Machens Ford, Columbia, had a bid of $20,228. That was the “state bid” through the statewide procurement program, and it was lower than the next bid of $20,346 from Denny Ford Lincoln, of Rolla.
    Kearse recommended the Denny Ford bid, for it was just $118 difference, and getting the truck from Joe Machens would require tying up the time of two employees, plus fuel.
    The council agreed without a peep.
    Fast-forward to Monday night, Nov. 4, when Public Works Director Steve Hargis submitted bids for a half-ton 4x4 pickup for the street department.
    Hargis said the low bid was $19,507 from Joe Machens Ford, Columbia, which was the state bid.
    Sakelaris Ford (which was Denny Ford last month but was purchased in the meantime) had a bid of $19,775.
    Other nearby bids were Hutcheson Ford, St. James, for $19,855 and West Brothers, Sullivan, $19,874.88. There were three other bids, one even from Kansas.
    “We are recommending the low bid,” Hargis said.
    Councilman Brian Woolley asked if the Rolla employees would have to go pick it up, and the answer was in the affirmative.
    Councilwoman Sue Eudaly said the difference was $268 between the low bid and the local bid. She asked how much it would cost to go pick up the truck in Columbia.
    “It’s probably going to be somewhere in that neighborhood,” Hargis said, meaning in the neighborhood of that difference in the bids.
    Councilman Steve Leonard said, “It would probably be best if we go with the local bid then.”
    Long reminded the council that it recently turned down a local construction bid in favor of a lower bid from an out-of-town firm, although the bids were close. Now, he said, the council is ready to make adjustments for a couple hundred dollars. That provoked the “all over the map” comment and his suggestion that “we need to be a little more consistent.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Councilman Tony Bahr said, “We’ve been down this road before, quite a few times.” He added that the consensus of the council has been that the low bid is the winning bid. He said, “I’ll go get it if you want me to.”
    Leonard said the fact that the next lower bid was from a Rolla dealer was not the deciding factor for him. He said the cost of picking up the truck in Columbia is what made him look at the other bids. He said if the Sullivan bid were a little lower, he’d be in favor of driving there, rather than Columbia for the lowest bid.
    And Woolley, apparently recalling the consensus, in fact the unanimous vote, of the previous month, said that considering the minimal difference in the bids, and the cost of going to get the truck, the low bid ought to be set aside and the local bid accepted.
    Mayor Bill Jenks asked if he wanted to make that a motion. Woolley did.
    The voice vote was inconclusive, and a count by the mayor was four in favor of the motion to accept the low bid and six against it, but all 12 council members were present.
    The mayor laughed as he demanded a recount. This time the vote was five in favor of the local bid and seven opposed.
    A final vote accepting the low bid was voiced, with only a couple of dissenters.
    After that vote, Councilman Monty Jordan suggested that a policy be formulated to give the council and some flexibility when the margin of difference is so small. Jenks said the council has discussed that before and has researched what other cities have done, and there is such wide variance, the Rolla council’s policy is to go with the low bid.
    Well, except for last month.

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