Friday, March 8, 2013

Kenner Council Defers Generator Contract

The Kenner City Council, at the urging of Councilman Kent Denapolis, reconsidered a controversial generator contract and deferred taking any action for one meeting.

The contract, which calls for generator maintenance and repair, was first discussed here and again, here.
After Kenner citizen Jack Zewe raised questions about the winning bidder not possessing the required licenses to bid on the job and the Council failing to fully look into the matter, the Council voted to award the contract anyway to Taylor Power Systems of Richland, MS.

The allegedly “sealed bid” contract, was for $49,900, $87 less than a competing Kenner company’s bid.
State bid law said that contracts of more than $50,000 require specific licenses. In addition, electrical work valued at more than $10,000 requires a state license.

Kenner officials maintained that Taylor would sub-contract out any electrical work and was not required to hold an electrical license and with the bid coming in lower than $50,000, the company was also exempt from holding a State Contractor's license.

However, since the bid was for $49,900, and the actual legislation was written as “an amount not to exceed $100,000”, it is possible that the amount paid to the company would be over the $50,000 threshold.
As late as Thursday, the City of Kenner was involved in meetings with the State Licensing Board to get a definitive answer on the bid’s legality.

In light of the questions, Councilman Denapolis said that he wanted more time to get all the answers.
Since Taylor previously held a no-bid contract with the City, Denapolis wanted to see a payment history for the company to see if the City spent more than $50,000 annually.

Kenner CAO Mike Quigley told the council that the company was paid less than $40,000 annually for similar work.
Quigley also continued to defend the bid process.

“The bid award was in compliance,” Quigley said.
Councilwoman Maria DeFranchesch also concurred with the City.

“I have no reservations about us following the law,” DeFranchesch said.
She also expressed outrage at the continuing discussions regarding the contract.

“We have spent so much additional time on this,” DeFranchesch said. “We’re wasting city resources rehashing and rehashing issues issues that have been addressed.”
Councilman Greg Carroll dismissed DeFranchesch’s concerns.

“We never waste anything when we do due diligence,” he said. “Most people will appreciate the time we take.”
For his part, despite the fact that the new bid amount was higher than what the company was paid the past two years, Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni continued to maintain that he was actually saving the city money.

According to the Times-Picayune, Yenni said, "We're doing this in an effort to save the city money. I could do it like Aaron Broussard and say it's a professional service contract, give it to my friend. But I don't do that."
Not that giving a contract to his friends would be above the Mayor, of course.