Kodiak Island Borough Assembly Discusses Procurement Process

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

New machinery and its procurement were two of the more controversial topics at the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly regular meeting Thursday night. Assemblymembers talked at length not only about purchasing two new machines for the Kodiak Island Borough landfill, but also about the process of selecting them.

A skid-steer loader moves garbage in the landfill, and borough staff reports that it needs replacement.

At the regular meeting, the borough manager said the borough staff received five bids from companies interested in providing the machine, and staff recommended a contract for the Case SR270 model from Yukon Equipment, with a price tag of almost $66,500.

As Assemblyman Dan Rohrer explained…

“Staff is recommending that we purchase the skid steer that was not the lowest bid item. So, there are two skid steers that were bid lower than this item. They are arguing that those don’t meet the spec requirements.”

Several assembly members had questions about the machine’s specifications and apparent discrepancies between the desired power of a potential machine and the abilities of the SR270. Rohrer also took issue with the specifications, but said he leaned towards voting in support of the staff’s suggested model.

“I struggle because the way that staff put this together is challenging at best for me, but as I look at it, I do feel that I have adequate information to be able to make a decision and determine that the Case SR270 is in fact the lowest bidder based upon the specs of the SR250.”

Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner said she was concerned that the specifications were incorrect.

“Some of the specifications that are on here weren’t discussed at all, which leads me to believe they weren’t really that important, and some of the very important specs like the breakout force, there’s discrepancies between the proposed comparison model, which doesn’t even have the required 8,700 pounds of breakout force, and there’s potential errors in the comparison spreadsheet.”

At the end of the discussion, the motion to move forward with the contract carried 4 – 2 with Skinner and Assemblyman Mel Stephens voting against. There also appeared to be an agreement among assembly members that the procurement process needs to be revised.

Here’s Assemblyman Larry LeDoux.

“I want a good process, I want good recommendations from staff, I trust the staff, but they’re only as good as the process, and the process is bad, so I can’t trust the product. And that needs to be fixed immediately.”

The same issue carried into the next item on the agenda, which was a contract for the procurement of a hydraulic excavator. Borough Manager Bud Cassidy explained that the excavator would be critical in putting garbage into the landfill’s lateral expansion.

He said staff originally recommended a bid of roughly $200,900 from Construction Machinery.

“We have since received a letter from the initial bidder who’s concerned that this particular piece of machinery does not meet all the specs. We did say in our advertisement that all minimum specs must be met, so based on that, Mr. Mayor, I am coming before tonight you to say that we do not make a selection tonight, that we re-bid this piece of machinery.”

The assembly had not seen that letter and took a recess so that Cassidy could print a copy for each of the assembly members.

After having read the email from one of the competing vendors, Stephens explained it does not say the recommended model fails to meet specifications.             

“It says the CAT’s a better machine, let’s look at the life of the contract, we think we’re really better. You do not, do not change your recommendations in a legitimate procurement process based upon representations like this.”

The rest of the assembly appeared to agree, as the motion to enter a contract with Construction Machinery carried 6 – 0.  

Rohrer used part of his statement during assemblymembers’ comments to speak about the process of machinery procurement. He said the Kodiak Island Borough does not buy much equipment.

“In fact, in many cases, it’s years between times we procure equipment. It’s not like the city of Kodiak who has an annual procurement of replacement vehicles… and so I think your involvement directly in that rather than us expecting basically half of our employee force to become experts at procurement, the reality is our manager has to or someone in the finance department.”
The next assembly work session is scheduled for Thursday, December 10 and its next regular meeting for Thursday, December 17.

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