To the editor:
Recently I submitted a bid on an opportunity in Pulaski County to run the concession stand at Randolph Park. In the end, I wasn’t awarded the contract to provide the concession services.
I thought that my bid was competitive, but because I lost, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to have a look at the other bids. I assumed that someone else gave a larger percentage of the revenue to the county.
You can imagine the shock when I saw that every single bid submitted was higher than the bid that was accepted. The bid that was accepted was going to give 3 percent compared to 7 – 10 percent of gross income to the county.
The bid process opened April 10. It was submitted to the Southwest Times with instructions to publish it April 14. That meant that the bids would have to be submitted, reviewed and awarded; leaving less than 10 days for a business to comply with any/all of the county’s requests and requirements. That leaves less than 20 days to get the concession stand stocked and staffed as well as get whatever equipment that may be needed above and beyond that which is already in the kitchen. Also to get the health department’s approval and whatever is needed by county to open.
None of the process makes any sense. Why aren’t the bids being solicited now or in the next 90 days to be awarded at least during the first quarter of the next season? What is the advantage to the taxpayers awarding the contract to the lowest bidder?
Why would you wait until 10 days to award a contract? What if the vendor had any kind of problem and wasn’t ready? Why does previous experience with the county matter? If previous experience with the county is an important factor – does that mean if you have never been awarded a contract that your chances of ever getting one is slim to none?
I suppose the county may say “other packages were incomplete,” but all of the potential bidders had to go to the county to get the bid package, so everything that was required should have been spelled out to keep things equal for all the bidders. I suppose the county may say that minority preference is required, but there were minority applicants who offered more, and still weren’t accepted.
If giving the greatest net return to the county isn’t the primary criteria, then what in the world is?