Bids rejected for new ambulances on a technicality
According to Haven, the maintenance is not the only thing that is more costly, but the parts for a Dodge are more than a Ford as well.
Beale said that although the maintenance costs may differ between the two vehicles, another benefit of the Dodge Charger is that the car has been vetted by the Highway Patrol. “The Charger has been used and approved by the State Highway Patrol, so we know what to expect when adding them to our fleet,” said Beale.
In addition to the five new Dodge Chargers, the Sheriff's Department is now soliciting bids for a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) to add to the department's inventory.
Due to state and federal budget cuts, Sheriff Holland has been actively searching for grants to help with the Sheriff's Office budget. After being turned down for several years, Holland informed commissioners that he finally received approval for a grant proposal that would allow the Sheriff's Department to create a new position as a Traffic Safety Officer, which includes personnel, equipment and other expenses incurred during the grant's term.
“Basically, I am asking for the county commissioners’ approval to help in securing this grant from the Governor's Highway Safety Program for federal funding for this new position,” said Holland. “The grant is over a four-year period, as funds allow, and requires a funding match from the county.”
According to the four-year grant proposal, funds in the first year will go toward buying equipment for the position as well as the salary. Macon County will receive 85 percent or $103,033 in federal dollars for the position and the county will be required to provide a 15 percent or $18,182 local match. The second year, the funding will be split 70 percent federal ($43,509) and 30 percent local ($18,646), the third year will be split evenly, 50/50, ($31,078) and the fourth and final year, Macon County will absorb 100 percent of the remaining cost which will be $62,155 for the salary of the position.
Commissioner Bobby Kuppers said that basically, Macon County has an opportunity to expand its department at a sale cost. “Basically we are getting this equipment and this position on sale,” said Kuppers. “What it will come down to is we receive this for 40 cents on the dollar.”
Kuppers informed commissioners that he whole-heartedly supported the grant because he believes it will help alleviate the stress of not having a full time officer in the Nantahala Community. “Since I have been on this board I have tried to work with the sheriff to do everything we can to get an officer in Nantahala because we know it will make a difference for everyone in that community,” said Kuppers. “Anything that might give us some flexibility in Nantahala would be great.”
Holland noted that out of the 13,441 calls put through to the sheriff's office from dispatch in 2011, 240 of those calls came from Nantahala.
According to Holland, the new position will allow for someone already employed with the department to take over the new Traffic Safety Officer position and then will allow someone new to be hired as a deputy.
Commissioners voted to approve the grant match.
Commissioners had to reject all of the four bids they received for the two new ambulances due to a technicality. According to Emergency Management Director David Key, the first set of specs sent out to bid did not include a chair that makes transferring patients up and down stairs easier and safer. “Although it was in the original bid packet, when the bid proposal got uploaded to the website for all of the World Wide Web to see, somehow the chair in the ambulance got left out,” Key explained. “We went back and added the chair as an addendum to the bid proposal and three of the bids we received included the chair, but the fourth bid, which we think even with the chair would come in much lower than the others, did not include the addendum.”
County Attorney Chester Jones said that because of the discrepancy, the only fair and legal way to handle the oversight, is to reject all the bids then re-solicit the bids with the complete proposal.
Key noted that the companies bidding on the ambulances were able to get the chair and stretcher to furnish the vehicle which are additional items on the proposal, which significantly reduced the price for the equipment than if Macon County attempted to purchase it on their own.
Commissioners noted that having to reject the bids, which are now public record, and solicit additional bids, may result in lower bids from the companies after they have access to competing bids.
Of the four bids originally received, Custom Truck and Body Works came in with the lowest offer for the two ambulances at $198,616 for a 2013 Competitor Series Chevrolet 3500 HD 4x4, without the addition of the chair. The next lowest bid came in at $234,186 from Select Custom Aparatus, Inc. for a 2012-2013 Chevrolet K3500 4x4. The third lowest bid came from Taylor Made and was $235,836 for a 2013 Chevrolet Type I 3500. The last bid was for $245,058 for a 2012-2013 Chevrolet 3500 4x4 Type I AEV from Northwestern Emergency Vehicle.
Commissioners voted to reject the bids and then re-open it. The board hopes to have the bids re-submitted and available for consideration during the continuation meeting on Monday, Sept. 25. According to Key, after selecting which company to use, it will take 90 days for the ambulances to be built and delivered to Macon County.