WM council expected to waive bids on annual contracts

City sticking with familiar faces for 2016

By John Rech news@theeveningtimes.com

With 2015 winding down and 2016 on the horizon, the West Memphis City Council will sights on next year’s expenditures at Thursday’s council meeting, going down a list of ordinances for annual non-competitive bids. While most city business is open for competitive bidding but the city does enjoy some economy in renewing certain providers, which the council employs for various reasons. Arkansas code allows waiving competitive bids where cities deem it unfeasible or impractical, or declare exceptional circumstances. Although there was no quorum at the council’s Dec. 3 meeting, those present began moving down the procedural path to approve certain bids for services . Mayor Bill Johnson lined out the needs of the city and provided justification to City Council for approving nine exclusive bids for services. “These next nine items are the standard bids for next year that we waive each year,” said Johnson. “We do this every year because it is not feasible to bid out each one of them.” Among those are consulting for Economic Development. The city will continue its relationship with both Gaskill Strategies and Red Deluxe. The Utility Commission is lining up to renew its contract with Jackson, Howell and Associates to conduct its annual audit, and also retain its regulatory specialists in David Wilson and A.J. Rowe & Associates. City employees will also enjoy continuity in dental coverage. Delta Dental offered insurance renewal with no increase in premiums and council moved to waive the need to seek competitive bids for 2016. The contract for the West Memphis Chamber of Commerce was also among those slated for renewal without the bidding process. A legal challenge to how cities fund chambers of commerce was mounted in North Little Rock earlier in the year, but the issue didn’t serve to shake the routine in the Wonder City. “The Chamber of Commerce provides economic development services and a lot of other services for us like the Christmas Parade,” said Johnson. “The auditors were very specific with us. They said if we have a contract, we need to keep it.” Continued mosquito spraying by land and air will continue with Vector Disease Control. Barring any last-minute changes, the mosquito control service will re-up with the city at a cost of $160,400 per year. The mayor will also ask the council to read out and give final approval to purchase fuel for the city fleet without soliciting bids. “Nobody will give you a bid on motor fuel except for the one day,” said Johnson. “You can buy $6,000 gallons but you have to do it that day.” Councilman Tracy Catt amended the ordinance to go all the way into Jan. 1, 2017, to avoid having to force the issue through in one meeting next year.

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