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County poised to wipe out one third of county reserves in one year
A Column by the Editor
web posted November 16, 2010
COLUMN – The vote of the County Council to purchase
a new network system and computers for the entire county government
campus without competitive bids
should come under closer scrutiny. With
a final total price tag of over $160,000 of taxpayer money, it seems
the entire meeting was contrived as no mention of a vote to make a
purchase was listed on the agenda of the special called meeting.
Since passing a new purchasing ordinance in April the county has placed
every purchase for services and or equipment out for bids ranging from
as little as just over $4,000 to as much as nearly $100,000, until now.
At the called meeting to review a report from the contracted computer
maintenance holder EDTS of possible system upgrades, the county council
voted to award a contract for replacement of 47 computers and the
entire networking system without ever placing the item out for a
request for proposals much less bids for the actual work.
Conversely, since the passage of the new purchasing ordinance, the
county has placed bids for purchases of a new transmission tower to be
located at the Star Road location with bids ranging between $81,917and
$105,000. The low bid, provided by World Tower Company, was accepted at
their August meeting.
At the same meeting the council approved bids for the replacement heat
pump units at the Detention Center with the winning bid going to Cullum
Electric and Mechanical out of Greenwood, suggested by Building and
Planning Director Mike Reed. They provided the low bid of $46,187; the
high bid came in at $84,375.
Bids were also awarded to Eddins Electric for the electrical wiring of
the Calliham building at $22,000 and Hewston Contruction for carpentry
work to be provided on a per hour basis of $20 an hour for a carpenter
and $15 an hour for a helper at the suggestion of Mr. Reed.
There have been many other bids for equipment and labor also awarded
over the past few months. How the county council can approve a purchase
for equipment and installation totaling over $160,000 without bids has
yet to be explained.
The county council majority openly questioned a similar lease-purchase
of replacement of over-mileage patrol cars for the Sheriff’s Office
which would cost the county far less money on a monthly basis was
continually postponed. County Attorney Michael Medlock stated such a
purchase would have to be placed out for bids, yet, in this situation
the same rules do not apply according to his statements at the meeting.
Under an emergency purchase, there is a provision to purchase items
without bids, however the entire network and computer systems is not
down or in dire need of replacement.
Some elected officials have indicated that they might refuse to allow
their networks to be tampered with and integrated with other county
offices. How that will pan out will be interesting.
However, the $163,000 spent to purchase the computers and servers from
an unknown fund are not the only costs involved. No one has even
mentioned what software provider Smith Data will charge to install
programming to each of the new 47 computers.
Since the county had to dip into its limited reserves to the tune of
nearly $500,000 to balance the budget proposed by Chairman Kneece, any
additional spending would have to dig deeper into those reserves.
That would also mean that if the county council approves an identical
budget for the next fiscal year that deficient would increase an
additional $20,000 for the purchase.
That does not include what is suspected to be over spending of budgeted
costs of remodeling at the new county office at the Kneece building,
formally known as the Calliham property.
The reality check is that one third of our county reserves have, or
will, disappear and no one is taking notice.
The economy is in the tank, property values are down (unless you look
at your tax assessment and bill) and there will be no increase in
unexpected revenues for next year.
Let’s hope that starting in January a majority of the county council
that will contain fiscal conservatives, and not Democrats, things might
be brought under control and our fiscal well-being might be preserved.
The current ruling majority and administration is taking us down a road
we should not venture towards. While revenues are decreasing they have
increased the cost of running the county exponentially and recklessly.
Let’s hope the new leadership of a Republican majority on the county
council for the first time in 20 years will reverse this disastrous
course. If not, they too need to be booted out of office and replaced
with those who will.
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