Supervisors review bidding process, delay wheel loader purchaseBy BUSTER WOLFE,
A discussion last Thursday over bids received by the Lamar County Board of Supervisors for at least one wheel loader turned into an examination of the bidding process and the way the specifications were written. The end result was all three bids were thrown out and rebidding will delay purchase of a wheel loader for a month.
Road Manager Tommy Jones said exceptions existed in each of the three bids that were due in the William J. “Pete” Gamble II Chancery Courthouse by 10 a.m. Sept. 21, when the bids were opened.
Each bid included the price of the wheel loader and a lease-purchase monthly amount. The three bids were from Equipment Inc. of Hattiesburg (Dooson brand, $139,726.86 cost and $2,555.74 monthly lease), Stribling Equipment, LLC of Hattiesburg (John Deere, $156,200 and $1,478.41) and Puckett Machinery Company of Flowood (Caterpiller, $171,151.60 and $2,082.40).
Jones said he parked the John Deere and Caterpillar machines included in the bids side-by-side and noticed differences.
“You look at the weight and you look at the breakout points,” he said. “There’s five exceptions that are listed and I didn’t have an issue with those exceptions. I said I didn’t, but I started looking at the safety points. … Two of the exceptions were safety issues, and I could probably still live with them. But when I looked at the whole machine … I start seeing things. I see even more when I get in the seat and start digging out of the bank. One of them I could dig out of the bank with no problem; the other one, I was scratching and it wasn’t doing any digging.”
District 2 Supervisor Warren Byrd took exception to the issues that Jones outlined.
“You’ve told me all of this stuff you are talking about is Mickey Mouse,” he said. “Let’s hold up on the Caterpillar and the John Deere. What about this Dooson that came in $17,000 cheaper? Did it meet specs? Did you check the specs on it?”
Jones said the Dooson bid took exception to as many as 15 specifications, adding that the wheel loader does not have the horsepower, the weight and breakout capacity he preferred.
“The thing is you go back and bid a bigger machine,” Jones said, turning to the John Deere specs. “When they came in and dropped their spec sheets to us, he brought a spec for a 624 (model) and turned around and bid a 544 (smaller model).”
Byrd said the specifications drawn up by Jones were being too specific.
“If you want to discuss this in here, here’s the facts: We’re nitpicking something,” Byrd said. “We haven’t even discussed Dooson. I don’t know what they’ve got. They have been thrown out with no exceptions; nobody has mentioned this Dooson. As stewards and supervisors and you as road manager of this county, we have a due diligence to the taxpayers to save the most money and due diligence for this county to provide the best equipment for our employees. I don’t know where this is going, but I am looking at the numbers I wrote down. We need to find out if Dooson is totally out of this by fault. Are they out of it by fault?”
Board President Joe Bounds of District 2 said the bids were based on the specifications. Jones repeated that each bid included exceptions.
“We can look at paper all day long, but we don’t buy a vehicle by looking at paper,” Jones said. “We are going to look at the pit. I say we put all three machines in the pit and all six of us walk around them and see what’s what.”
“What’s that to do with the bid process?” Byrd asked. “Why do we take bids? Why do we consistently take bids and we always choose the better; I get that. You asked for a bid and we got it, but the Caterpillar looks bigger. You can say that. You can park a Ford F350 beside the Chevrolet F350 and the Ford is bigger. It’s got a bigger back seat, it’s got a higher suspension and it’s got bigger tires. Does that mean I should pay $17,000 more for Ford because it’s got a bigger back seat?”
“No, and you’re not going to see a bigger back seat,” Jones replied. “I’m going to show you where one of them has a pivot point where all of that metal comes together where one is 5/8-inch thick and the other is 1-5/8 inches.”
Byrd said the bid process should be followed.
“This isn’t legit,” he said. “This isn’t legit and I’m going to sit right here. If y’all want to discuss this in opening meeting, this isn’t legit. We’re breaking the law; we didn’t do what we said. We said we took bids and everything they didn’t meet is a seat belt light that doesn’t come on, a battery and the diesel exhaust fuel tank being by the fuel tank. We are being ridiculous with this, and I am not going to sit here and vote or even consider spending $15,000 more with less buyback because the steel on the turntable is bigger. I make a motion right now to take action on this; throw all of these bids out and start over. Throw them out; that’s my motion.”
District 1 Supervisor Steve Lampton seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Byrd then asked if he needed to make a motion to discuss the specifications before the wheel loaders are re-advertised. No motion was made.
At the Sept. 28 meeting, the Board of Supervisors:
• Approved the Sept. 21 Board Minutes.
• Quit Without Notice: Thomas Howell, Sanitation, and Zedric Taylor, South Bridge, both effective Sept. 13.
• Rate Change: Jessica Toland, Litigation Support, DA Office, effective Oct. 1 from $12.02 per hour to $14.42 per hour.
• New Hire: Glenn Davis, Sanitation Temporary/Full-Time Hopper effective Oct. 2 at $10.50 per hour.
• Approved paying the Sept. 28 Claims Docket as submitted.
• Approved the Board President to sign the MSU Extension Service Pro-Forma Order pledging salary support of $11,600 for the Extension Agent I position. This amount is included in the FY2018 Budget.
• Approved amending the FY 2017 Budget, ending Sept. 30, of revenues and expenses to actual amounts received and spent.
• Received and entered Proof of Publication on the FY 2018 Budget and the FY 2018 Tax Levy.
• Approved transferring $572.92 from fund 121 (Fire Coordination) to fund 106 (Insurance Rebate) to cover excess expenditures.
• Resigned: Howard Chandler, Deputy effective Sept. 19.
• New Hire: Brayden Hodge, and Warren McRaney, both deputies and effective Oct. 4 at $16.90 per hour.
• New Hire: Jason Pohlmann, Deputy, effective Oct. 2 at $16.90 per hour.
• Received and entered the FY 2017 Sheriff Department vehicles list and the FY 2017 Sheriff Department unmarked vehicles list.
• Approved paying lawful expenses for Investigator Michael Wahl to attend the Property and Evidence Room Management Class Nov. 8-11 in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The class was rescheduled due to Hurricane Irma.
• Resigned: James Williams, Northeast VFD, effective Oct. 6.
• Approved the asset deletion list, declare as surplus and sell items at auction.
• Approved the asset transfer list.
• Received and entered the FY 2018 beginning inventory as submitted by the Inventory Clerk.
• Approved the Chancery Clerk to submit copies of the FY 2017 Inventory and the Inventory Statement (Form F) to the State Auditor.
• Approved changes in Assessments and Homestead as submitted by the Tax Collector/Assessor.
• Approved Tax Sale Cancellations as submitted by the Tax Collector/Assessor.
• Tabled distribution of the Fund 121 Fire Coordination net allocations to the fire districts as submitted and approved by the Fire Coordinator and Comptroller; based upon the Board of Supervisors previously established gross distribution amounts.
• Included in the distribution are $12,695.39 to fund Beaver Lake Fire Grading District, $21,644.83 to Pine Ridge Fire Grading District, $14,484.45 to Southeast Fire Grading District, $23,298.93 to Hickory Grove Fire Grading District and $26,251.72 to Rock Hill Fire Grading District).
• Continued review of the ingress and egress of buses at the private school located at 6752 Hwy. 98.
• Withdrew from the agenda approval for the Board President to sign a letter to the University Medical Center requesting assistance with Lamar County Fire Service ALS as well as establishing a Community Paramedic Program.