Houlton councilors OKs two new cruisers

13 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Police Department will soon be adding two new sport utility vehicles to its fleet after the Houlton Town Council approved the purchase Monday evening at their regularly scheduled meeting.
    The town received two bids for the vehicles, one from Quirk Ford in Augusta and the other from York’s of Houlton. While the bid from Quirk Ford was lower, the board opted to go with the local business.
Town Manager Doug Hazlett said both bidders offered a “substantial discount” off the retail price for the vehicles. The price difference between the two bids was $288.
“York’s is a local company that spends thousands of dollars a week in payroll and thousands of dollars in taxes, I think this is a no-brainer to not accept Quirk’s bid and go with them,” said councilor John Fitzpatrick.
Councilor Brian Donnelly agreed.
“York’s does a lot for the town of Houlton,” Donnelly said. “If this were a difference of two or three thousand dollars, I could see it [going with the lower bid], but since it’s $288, I hate to see that money go out of town.”
Hazlett cautioned the council that going with the higher bid could create problems down the road for future requests for bids.
“Maine Municipal Association counsels that if you are going to consistently and repeatedly select only local people in the bidding, regardless of price difference, you run the risk of future bids,” he said. “You can have a local bidder preference ordinance, which we have talked about before, but they [MMA] counsels against that too because it discourages the fundamental purpose of a bid.”
He added that in this particular instance, since there were only two bidders and the price difference was negligible, that going with the higher bid was not out of the ordinary.
“It is the right of the council to accept or reject any bid,” he said.
Hazlett also suggested the council could review bids such as this in the future on a case-by-case basis.
“If you believe the margin is pretty narrow, and it isn’t going to discourage people from bidding in the future, then that’s a good basis to make your decision,” he said.
Council chairman Walter Goodrich said he spoke with the town manager earlier in the day, asking why two SUVs were being purchased instead of Crown Victoria cars.
“One of the vehicles will be a replacement for the chief and we will move that vehicle for use by the detective, which will replace an outdated vehicle,” Hazlett said. “The price difference between these and Crown Victoria’s is very small. And on nights like tonight, four-wheel drive is a much better option for our police department.”
The council’s next regular meeting is Monday, March 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Council chambers.