Clermont Council Withdraws Contract

(posted Apr 11)

The Clermont Town Council withdrew its vote to award $1,975 to Williams Construction for a 40 foot paving job on Tansel Road due councilor Walt Miller's failure to get three written quotes. The other verbal quote was $2,650.

Town Attorney Robert Lutz explained it was not acceptable for Miller to receive quotes by phone for a public works project. Miller had only two phone quotes with no real documentation for the council to review at the April 10 meeting.

Miller voiced his displeasure that the council would not take action on a contract that was less than $2,000. Miller asked if they could bypass the need for three quotes by declaring it an emergency. President Bob Hinshaw disagreed that it was an emergency, stating "I am not going to play the game to call something an emergency."

Councilor John Miller also agreed that the situation was not an emergency.

Lutz said written requests must be sent to the contractors with specifications at least ten days prior to the award date. He said this was more than filling a pothole, it was a repaving project. The quotes must be sealed and opened at the meeting. He said that Miller should not personally retain the information. It should be kept on file at the town hall with the Clerk Treasurer in case a contractor wants to review and challenge the award.

The council has also been placed in an awkward position with a February letter from Councilor Vonda Kiger's doctor saying she needs a six month leave of absence due to an illness.

Kiger has never acknowledged the council's phone calls inquiring about the leave of absence or saying she authorized the doctor to write the letter. Hinshaw did not want the leave to extend for four years and her district to go unrepresented. Hinshaw indicated he would be satisfied if Kiger would respond that the doctor had the legal authorization to write the letter.

Linda Backus said she had permission from Kiger to announce she was ill, but once again that did not help the council members because they want to take action based on comments directly from Kiger.

The council took no action.

The Council could be facing a $21,000 income shortfall in 2009 and $90,000 in 2010 due to the property tax caps that were instituted by state law. Hinshaw explained the council could probably figure out how to operate with a $21,000 loss of income, but the $90,000 loss would be a serious problem. The state placed a 1.5% cap on the assessed valuation for residential properties, two percent cap on income rentals and three percent on businesses.

John Miller thought if fire consolidation happened it would help offset the $90,000 loss in income. Lutz said the town would no longer have the $360,000 fire contract in the budget and would not receive that income because individual property owners would be assessed for Indianapolis Fire Department services.