Tisbury selectmen protest county fuel oil bid flub
Continuing his efforts to pry an explanation out of the Dukes County manager, Tisbury town administrator John Bugbee recently sent a letter on behalf of the Tisbury selectmen chastising the Dukes County commissioners for bungling the fuel oil contract bid process.
The county's FY2006 fuel oil contract was bid incorrectly in August, when county manager E. Winn Davis failed to publish a legal advertisement requesting bids to provide fuel oil to Vineyard towns and schools. The contract was re-bid in September and awarded to R.M. Packer Company.
At a Tisbury selectmen's meeting last month, Mr. Bugbee charged that the bid delay cost taxpayers an additional $100,000. Mr. Davis responded in a web site posting that Mr. Bugbee's criticism was incorrect and that the per gallon cost of oil had actually dropped from $2.59 per gallon to $2.54 a gallon during the delay between the first bid attempt and the second.
In his letter to the commissioners dated Nov. 28, Mr. Bugbee wrote, "The lack of due diligence on the part of those responsible for administering this contract will now result in the taxpayers being forced to pay an additional $100,000 (based on usage under the FY05 contract multiplied by the difference in the price of oil from May to September)."
Copies of both fuel oil bid sheets from Aug. 30 and Oct. 7 provided by Mr. Davis's office show a fixed-bid price of $2.54. When asked from what document Mr. Davis quoted the first bid price as $2.59 per gallon, Deborah Potter, executive assistant to the county manager, said he had since told her he misread the information.
At the November selectmen's meeting, Mr. Bugbee also questioned why the county failed to solicit bids until two months into the new fiscal year. Historically, he said, the county has solicited fuel bids from vendors between April and May, so that by June 1, towns will know what fuel oil costs will be for the new fiscal year that begins on July 1.
Mr. Bugbee addressed this topic in his letter, as well.
"Equally troubling is the lack of clarification as to why this costly delay occurred at all, and to say that the delay actually saves the Island towns money is misguided and erroneous.
"These contracts have been placed out to bid in May/June given that they expire June 30th; however, this contract was placed out to bid incorrectly in September and then correctly in October, a full four months late," the letter read.
Copies of the invitation for bids, also provided through Mr. Davis's office, confirm Mr. Bugbee's assertions. In previous years, the deadlines set for bid requests by county manager Carol Borer were June 4, 2001, and June 5, 2002, and by acting county manager Dianne Powers, June 13, 2003. Since Mr. Davis was appointed county manager, the deadlines set for bid requests were July 14, 2004, and August 30 and October 7, 2005.
To date, Mr. Bugbee said Mr. Davis has not replied to his letter. "The lack of response continues to be a frustrating exercise; however, it is important that these issues continue to be discussed, as they directly affect our town's taxpayers and the town's ability to operate in an efficient manner," said Mr. Bugbee.