John Contract Prompts Discussion

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John Contract Prompts Discussion

Prince Frederick, MD - 5/1/2012

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By Marty Madden

Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt
Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“It seems like Groundhog Day. We’ve done this before.”

Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt opposes a contract award to a Charles County vendor.

A contract for a vendor to provide, deliver and service portable toilets on an as-needed basis rekindled the debate at the Calvert County Commissioners’ May 1 meeting. The issue is whether the county should grant preference to Calvert County businesses who are outbid by out-of-county vendors.

The commissioners voted 4-to-1 to award to contract to the lowest responsive, responsible bidder, United Site Services of Maryland Inc., a Waldorf-based vendor. United Site Services of Maryland Inc.’s monthly price for regular and handicapped portable toilets was $1,645 for 41 units. The next three lowest bids were submitted by Huntingtown-based vendors. The lowest of those bids was submitted by Outback Porta-Jon Inc., which charged a monthly fee of $1,679.20 for the same number of units.

Commissioner Evan K. Slaughenhoupt Jr. [R] announced he would oppose awarding the contract to the Waldorf vendor since the difference was only $34 a month.

Commissioner Pat Nutter [R] said he would normally agree with Slaughenhoupt but express concern about the commissioners “changing the process” in the middle of the procedure. “We have a set procedure in place,” Nutter said.

Commissioner Susan Shaw [R] agreed with Nutter, stating that awarding the contract to anyone but the lowest responsible bidder was “doing it piecemeal. The issues are larger than this individual contract.” Additionally, Shaw pointed out that awarding the contract to anyone but the lowest bidder would cost the taxpayers money. Additionally, Shaw explained there was a possibility that Calvert residents might be among United Site Services of Maryland Inc.’s employees.

“We’ve referred this very issue to the Department of Economic Development,” said Shaw, who recalled the department recommended the commissioners not enact a local preference policy since “it would not be fair to the taxpayers.”

Shaw and the other four commissioners indicated they wanted to see local businesses succeed in procuring local contracts.

“It seems like Groundhog Day,” said Slaughenhoupt. “We’ve done this before.”

The portable toilets would be provided, delivered and serviced by the vendor at various sites throughout Calvert County for the Division of Parks and Recreation and other departments on an as-needed basis.

“This contract is for a one-year period with the option to renew for two additional one-year terms,” stated Department of Finance and Budget Purchasing Officer Roberta L. Baker in a memo to the commissioners. Baker noted the previous contract was awarded to J & J Portable Toilet & Septic Services Inc. of Huntingtown in May 2009. Additionally, Baker stated United Site Services of Maryland Inc. received good comments from the references it provided the county government.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com



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