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Letter: Edelson Discusses Adherence to Bidding and Procurement Policy

Southbury First Selectman Ed Edelson submits letter to the editor.

Editor,

I would like to address some of the commentary regarding my administration’s position on the Town’s Procurement Policy. First, we are committed to implementing the Procurement Policy, which went through significant review and revisions by the Boards of Finance and Selectmen over the past two years. Second, the people responsible for developing the policy understood that there are many factors besides price in implementing cost-effective procurement. The most recent example of the purchase of the Over-The-Fence Mower and Tractor adhered to this policy.

The policy states that “Items purchased from the State of Connecticut’s official competitive bid list…are exempt from the requirements established by this policy.” This exemption was made a part of the policy after careful review and analysis of the state bidding process by the Board of Finance to reduce the burden of competitive bidding by the Town while still obtaining the best price possible. The State Bid List is created through a competitive bid process.  It was understood that the Town would be duplicating what the State had already done but with lower purchasing power. The question we ask is whether or not we believe that the item meets our needs and is the best value.  In some cases, the requirements are not exactly the same. For example, fuel on the State Bid List might be cheaper but it is priced with delivery in the Hartford region. To move it to Southbury, would incur additional transportation costs that would make this low bid price more expensive to us.

In this case, a similar mower was purchased six years ago from the State Bid List and the town was pleased with the quality. This mower is not the run-of-the-mill lawnmower that most of us use in our backyards and cannot be purchased from our local hardware store. In fact, the mower on CT’s bid list comes from a supplier in Massachusetts. The unique feature of this mower is that it folds up to equal the width of the tractor, facilitating transport from location to location. This feature is only offered by one manufacturer and the company on the State Bid List is the only supplier of this mower for the entire state of CT. Given this, we concluded that using the State Bid List made good sense in providing a quality mower that had been competitively bid.

At the Board of Selectmen meeting two concerns were raised: one was that we had time before the mowing season so let’s use this to make more inquiries; the other was that it would not take much time to make a few phone inquiries. The first item assumes that these mowers are readily available; this is not the case. The lead time is such that we need to order now so we are ready for the mowing season. The second would be a violation of the procurement policy. If a phone call resulted in someone saying that they could provide a lower cost, per the procurement policy, we could not act upon it without going through the competitive bid process. This, however, runs counter to the idea of not duplicating the State bid process.

Competitive bidding by the town is an important tool in procurement, but as I have found in my private sector experience and as we have been advised by the Connecticut Council of Municipalities, it is not always the best approach.

Those of us in the business of getting things done in a timely and efficient manner know that sometimes what looks like a simple exercise from the outside may not be so, in fact.

A copy of the latest Procurement/Bidding Policy, adopted by the Board of Selectmen on November 20, 2011 is available on the Town website or by clicking here.

We are committed to adhering to this bidding policy and, in the process, ensuring that taxpayers’ money is spent prudently and productively.

Signed,

Ed Edelson
Southbury First Selectman

Long Time Resident February 12, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Hiring issues too? I really thought this was a bad joke until I read the article. The comment in the paper under the article is priceless. http://www.rep-am.com/articles/2012/02/12/news/local/619815.txt#blogcomments Procurement issues. Not just one Mr. Edelson, but two. No one forgets the $150,000 bucket truck that did NOT go out to bid at all which was allowed in December. Now this purchase. Do you forget all the articles and stories on how the highway department and treasurers office did what they wanted, when they wanted and it was allowed by the person we didn't re-elect? Now, we get this purchase and you defend the fact that no one has, as RU says above done their "homework". The answer to Landmons question at the meeting by Mr. Crowe should have been, "we contacted several vendors, A, B and C and the state bid price is the lowest for what we need"...End of discussion, move on. It is incumbent upon you to ensure your department heads give you and the board all the factual information needed to make a reasonable, professional and prudent decision in the best interests of the taxpayer. We elected you because we thought you would be sensitive to the needs and concerns of the taxpayers. Arrogance isn't going to get you reelected, no matter how many pictures you take and post on social networking sites! Do you think the voters who elected you were kidding when they say they wanted change from the same old, same old?
carol renza February 13, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Here is part of the comment posted by "Southbury incompetence," referred to above... "...Ed is either misinformed or lying. The on call driver position HAS BEEN ADVERTISED in the past!!!! The Voices reported that Ms. Gesek recommended Davis be hired...this is right in line with hiring her friend from Monroe to be in charge of the Senior center, then hiring the barber the 2 women from Monroe use personally, now she hires Davis. Mr. Edelson, you are in charge now. No more blaming the Department Heads who you heard so much negativity about during your campaign. They can't be trusted and you must manage them or they run amok. It is ironic though, how does one go through life as a liquor store counter hump, get annointed first selectman and leave in embarassment and disgrace and end up as Southbury's own Ralph Cramden? Karma is a bi... " One must wonder if Mr. Edelon was not paying attention to the 'friends and family' hiring plan which Davis was criticized for. It was brought up many times that jobs should be advertised in the community and the people who pay the bills should have a fair shot at jobs - not just town hall insiders. Knowing this, why did he sign off on this hire without advertising the job? No one begrudges Davis the position - but he got it on insider's knowledge and no one in the communith had a chance to apply. .
carol renza February 13, 2012 at 01:11 AM
As far as that $157,000 bucket which Crowe stated at a BOS we only received 'one bid' for. After stating to me he doesn't want to 'micromanage' his department heads, Edelson informed me that Crowe contacted '3 or 4 suppliers' ... which is it - 3??? 4??? If he investigated, he would have a firm number along with existing records identifiing suppliers contacted along with specs they were provided. There is one right in Bridgeport, in fact. I requested under FOI dates, times and identities of those suppliers and specifications they were sent. It's called MANAGEMENT of department heads. Not micromanagement, but management. I find it very difficult to comprehend that in this economy, manufacturers and their sales people would totally ignore request for quotations if we provide them with specs, so that we are left with only 'one bid' to present to the BOS.
geewizz February 13, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Dear Ed, What's the manufacturer and model number of this $117,000 "over the fence" mower? If your employee's are too busy to make a few phone calls to save our tax dollars, let us do your office's job and look into the matter. Davis is hired at the senior center... Really? Was this job even posted?
Greg Kuehn February 15, 2012 at 06:38 PM
My biggest concern with Ed's letter is a suggestion that there is any kind of "burden" to conduct a bidding process. If there is some kind of undue burden, it would be prudent to explain how that is. At the moment, I can't help but feel where one would call it a burden, another would call it a primary responsibility. Maybe that concern could be clarified? I think it's a terrible mistake to start this term with what appears to be a lackluster approach to conserving taxpayer money. It's no surprise that this would be a sensitive issue. Make the decision and effort to get the bidding done and settle the issue once and for all.

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