Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By Paul Koenig firstname.lastname@example.org
FARMINGDALE — The Board of Selectmen tonight will discuss whether to revise the snow plowing contract some residents have called unfair or choose from the two contractors who bid.
Several vocal residents at the last two board meetings criticized the quality of the work performed in the past by the low bidder — Ellis Construction of Farmingdale — and accused the selectmen of crafting the contract to benefit that company.
The selectmen will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Office.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Doug Ebert said the board's decision is still up in the air, and it could decide to redo the contract. However, his concern about putting the contract out to bid again is that new contractors could undercut the bids already made public, he said.
The low bidder, Ellis Construction, bid $162,500 for each of the first three years and $170,000 for the optional fourth year. McGee Construction, of West Gardiner, bid $192,000 for each of the first three years of the contract, as well as the optional fourth year.
The board split the contract into three portions in 2010 and awarded all three contracts to Ellis Construction after McGee Construction and E.C. Barry and Son Construction turned down the rural road contract, and E.C. Barry and Son Construction turned down the sidewalks contract.
This year, the selectmen put a single contract out to bid following a mandatory pre-bid meeting on July 29. The other companies that attended the meeting, E.C. Barry and Son Construction, of Farmingdale, and Frank Monroe Construction, of Whitefield, didn't bid.
Residents at the last two board meetings have largely objected to the new requirement in the contract that companies must have dedicated sand-and-salt storage clearly separate from those of other towns. They said that kept some contractors who don't have dedicated storage — like Ellis Construction has — from bidding.
Resident William Weeks said the timeline in the contract for contractors to have sand-and-salt storage ready was unattainable for those without one already.
Contractors were required to identify land for storage by Tuesday and complete the structure by Sept. 30.
Weeks tried moving for residents to choose McGee Construction over Ellis Construction at the last meeting, but the board had already tabled the vote. Ebert said on today that the board consulted with the town attorney about whether residents can vote on contracts and determined they cannot.
Weeks said he doesn't plan to try to vote again. If the board doesn't redo the contract, Weeks said he hopes the selectmen choose McGee Construction.
But he expects the board to just pick Ellis Construction at tonight's meeting.
"No one is actually answering our questions. No one is actually addressing our concerns," Weeks said by phone Tuesday. "They stay silent."
Paul Koenig — 621-5663