Confusion clouds awarding of city contract in New Boston
In their regularly scheduled meeting on April 20, the New Boston City Council completed a long list of agenda items including appointing Jimmy Howell to continue representing the City on the TexAmericas Board, and a presentation from local business owner Caleb Stephens on the Texas Main Street Program.
The Main Street Program is an arm of the Texas Historical Commission and is a program designed to renovate and revitalize downtown business districts. Since its inception, the Texas Main Street Program has Additionally, Main Street cities have added more than 45,000 jobs and 10,500 small businesses to the Texas economy.
Stephens told the city leaders, “We believe in the city of New Boston and we hope you will support us.” The city would have to commit to hiring and paying a Main Street Program Director for New Boston, with a salary range of around $45K per year. The council is expected to address the issue at a future meeting.
After closed session, the council addressed the awarding of several bid recommendations for mowing contracts around the city. The contracts for the mowing of Tapp Park and Scrapp Miller Park, along with the contract for the mowing of the Northeast Texas Trail from downtown to Hwy. 98 were both awarded to the low bidder, Mark Thompson. The contract for the mowing around Trail Head Park and the city offices and police station was awarded to JTM Designs, despite it not being the low bid.
Councilwoman Sue Anderson stated, “I know JTM’s is higher but he has been doing it for quite a while now and I know what his work is…I really appreciate Jason (Milton) and the pride he takes in our downtown area…I would like for us to consider him.” JTM Designs is owned by local businessman Jason Milton, and has done an impeccable job of keeping downtown New Boston mowed often and looking good.
Councilman Rob Carr expressed concern during this meeting that he had some concern in the city not taking the low bid. There was a bid that was more than $3,000 less than JTM’s bid.
After much deliberation and confusion on the issue, JTM Designs was awarded the bid with a 3-2 vote, with Rob Carr and Neilan Hensley voting against and Anderson, Steve Williams and Jackie Laney voting to award the contract.
After the meeting was over, Mayor Ron Humphrey was concerned that there had been some confusion during the discussion and vote on the contract awarded to JTM Designs and decided to call a special meeting to re-address the bids.
Ryan Flenniken, who had made the lower bid on the contract, spoke to the council about his work ethic and work history and that he had done everything from mowing grass to cutting timber for Blue Cross Blue Shield and had never had any problems before being awarded jobs.
After closed session, Mayor Humphrey expressed concerns that he had clouded and confused the issue during the discussion in the previous meeting stating, “I didn’t fully frame the issue.”
He said that he had gone back and reviewed the previous meeting and decided he had to call for a reconsideration due to his mistakes.
Rob Carr then made a motion that the council reconsider Flenniken’s bid and Hensley seconded that motion. During discussion on the issue, Carr stated that he had no issues with JTM’s previous work, but “I can’t in good conscience look at the taxpayers and say we didn’t go with the best, lowest bid. I just can’t.”
A vote was taken on the motion and it came to a 2-2 tie with Carr and Hensley voting to award the contract to Flenniken and Anderson and Williams voting against. Councilman Laney was ill and absent from the meeting, so Mayor Humphrey had to cast the deciding vote. Humphrey voted yes and the contract was awarded to Flenniken.
Carr stated after the meeting, “I believe we did the right thing for the taxpayers we represent. Like I said, I have no problem with Jason or his work, but as councilmen we have to represent the taxpayers as best as we can, and I think we did.”