The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night not to renew the county’s lawn care contract, instead choosing to issue a request for proposals to reopen the contract for bid.
Current provider Durden’s Lawn Maintenance has been providing lawn care to the county since 2006, and the board initially approved a 5-year renewal with Durden Feb. 5; however, the board backtracked after learning Durden was operating without a business license.
“I take full responsibility for what’s happened,” Chairman Keith Ellis told attendees at the meeting in the Historic Courthouse. He promised in the future that he would “do as much homework as possible” and added that the commissioners were working hard to gel as a team.
The vote to put a request for proposals out for the lawn care contract was made by District 1 Commissioner John Douglas.
At a meeting earlier this month, Douglas had noted contradictions in the county’s written policy regarding when a request for proposals was required for contracts to provide the county with services. He said there was a paragraph saying contracts worth more than $20,000 “required” a request for proposal. The Durden contract was worth $98,463.
But another sentence said that a request “may be required.” Douglas had suggested at that meeting that the policy be rewritten more clearly.
The lawn care contract has sparked some spirited discussions this month about the fairness of the bidding process. District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson noted previously that the board often voted to bid out lawn care and recycling contracts but not others.
Ellis told the audience that beginning March 4 he would always be in his office at 4 p.m. Monday before every commissioners’ meeting. The public was welcome to discuss concerns or issues with him.
“I’m calling it ‘Chat with the Chairman,’” Ellis said.
After the meeting adjourned, Ellis chatted about the idea. He hoped the practice would help get accurate information out quickly and directly to residents before rumors blossomed on the grapevine.
“A lot of people have a tendency to blog in Covington,” Ellis said, with a wry smile.
For more background on the controversy surrounding the lack of a business license, read this story -http://www.covnews.com/section/1/article/37466/
To read the original story about when the contract was re-approved Feb. 5, click on the following link -http://www.covnews.com/section/1/article/37040/