Action tabled on having materials produced for Safe Routes to School program

Posted: Mar. 26, 2013 12:14 am Updated: Apr. 9, 2013 12:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The Quincy City Council voted Monday night to table a bid of $2,950 from AdForce Advertising Agency for a project to design educational materials, brochures, banners and public service advertisements involving the Safe Routes to School program.

Alderman Terri Heinecke, R-7, requested the delay so the Finance Committee could take another look at the four bids submitted for the project, which ranged from a low of $2,950 to a high of $30,500.

Heinecke declined to say why she thought the bids warranted another look, other than to say she had heard there were some possible irregularities in the bidding process. She did not offer any specifics.

Safe Routes to Schools is a federal program that provides grants to communities to improve safety for schoolchildren walking to school. The city also received funding to buy 15 speed display boards and timers from CDS Office Technologies for $49,560. The signs will be installed near seven schools: Adams, Madison, Dewey, Washington, St. Peter, St. Francis and Quincy Junior High School.

Eighteen blinker stop sign paddles also will be bought from Tapco Inc. for $2,970.

The bid was recommended to the City Council by the Finance Committee on a 4-0 vote, although the committee did talk about rebidding the project because of the cost differences.

Director of Planning and Development Chuck Bevelheimer said the city decided in January to bid the project rather than award it through the city’s professional services clause.

Comptroller Ann Scott, who also serves as the city’s purchasing director, said the bid specifications were completed by Jan. 31 and published in The Herald-Whig on Feb. 3 and Feb. 6.

Scott said the original bid packet asked for the companies to bid on printing costs, but an addendum was sent to remove that request after the city received questions from prospective bidders.

She said the only irregularity she noticed when the bids were opened was the cost disparity. She said none of the bidders included printing costs.

“It looks like they are all on the same basis,” she said.

Mayor John Spring said he was informed of a “mistake” made by a part-time employee before the city sought the bids, although he declined to elaborate. Spring said the part-time employee no longer works in the Planning and Development Department.

Bevelheimer also declined to elaborate, saying it’s a “personnel matter.”

Alderman Steve Duesterhaus, D-2, said the low bid should have been accepted.

“Specifications were released, bids were requested, bids came in, they were opened, it was all conducted according to the code, and after investigating the low bid to be certain they could accomplish the task that was specified, the Finance Committee recommended that we accept the low bid for this program,” Duesterhaus said.

“I did not hear anyone say that there was a violation of the code in any manner to justify tabling this.”

A motion to table the bid was approved on a 10-4 vote, with Duesterhaus and Aldermen Dave Bauer, D-2, Mike Farha, R-4, and Jack Holtschlag, D-7, dissenting.