County picks higher HVAC bid

Published 7:48 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On Tuesday, the Decatur County Board of Commissioners selected a local company’s bid to provide heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and services at the new agricultural building on Vada Road, even though the local company’s bid was slightly higher than another company’s bid.
The county received four bids for the purchase, but the lowest bid was discarded because the vendor did not meet necessary qualifications. The remaining three bids were: Benson’s Heating and Air of Tallahassee, Fla., $109,737; Parker’s Heating and Air of Cairo, Ga., $110,022; and Harrell King Heating and Air Conditioning of Bainbridge, $110,749. After some discussion about the matter, the board ultimately unanimously voted to accept Harrell King’s bid.
County Finance Director Carl Rowland initially recommended for the county to take the low bid from Benson’s. Commissioner Dr. David C. “Butch” Mosely then asked if the county should consider the slightly higher bid from Harrell King, because it was made by a local company.
“Do you think we should consider spending that money in Decatur County for a thousand bucks, or do we go out of town for our business,” Mosely asked.
Rowland said he had discussed the situation with County Attorney Brown Moseley, and that the county’s procurement policies and procedures called for the county to always take the low bid in any sealed-bid competition.
“By our policy, there are no exceptions other than considering the lowest bid,” Attorney Moseley said. “Now, the policy manual also says that the county commission is the last word on any interpretation of the policy, and is the final authority on any decision related to the policy.”
Commissioner Mosely noted that the county had previously purchased a vehicle from a local vendor, even though an Atlanta-based vendor had offered a slightly lower bid. Rowland said the reasoning in that instance was because it would have cost more money to have transported the vehicle from Atlanta.
Attorney Moseley noted that some government agencies have an exception that allows for purchases to be made from local vendors, assuming the bids are close to the low bid, but that Decatur County currently has no such exceptions.
“There are some governmental entities that have a provision for giving a preference to local bidders, for instance, if it’s within several percent of an out-of-town bidder,” he said. “But our policy does not have that in it; perhaps it should. I’m just relating what our policy currently says.”
Commissioner Frank Loeffler made a motion to accept the bid from Harrell King, and that motion was seconded by Commissioner Oliver Sellers.
“You have a company that’s paying taxes locally,” he said. “I would like to see us, if we can, go with Harrell. If we can’t, then I certainly want to put some kind of percentage factor in our policies so that we can [in future situations].”
During the discussion, Rowland also suggested that the county should consider adding a local-bidder exception to the agenda of its next work session.