Geneva aldermen reject $215K no-bid contract for electric line tree trimming – Shaw Local

Geneva aldermen reject 5K no-bid contract for electric line tree trimming – Shaw Local

GENEVA – In a 6-2 vote, with two absent, Geneva aldermen Monday recommended against a no-bid contract for electric line tree trimming, citing a need to have competitive bidding.

City Administrator Stephanie Dawkins said the city’s current contract with Lewis Tree Services expires on June 15 and said staff was recommending keeping Lewis on for two more years at $215,000 per year.

“In the past few years, staff has been challenged to get multiple bids when RFPs (requests for proposals) for line clearance tree trimming are posted,” Dawkins said. “Due to current staffing issues, some past bidders have indicated they would not submit a bid at this time. Based on Lewis’ performance and production over the last two years, staff recommends that competitive bidding is waived and the contract awarded to Lewis Tree Service.”

In a June 6 memo, Electrical Services Superintendent Aaron Holton, wrote that in the past, the city would not get even three responders to requests for proposals.

“Staff has tried different strategies to increase the number of companies that would respond to the request, with very limited success,” Holton’s memo stated.

Lewis Tree Service was awarded for the past two fiscal years.

“Since then, Lewis has shown themselves to be outstanding at what they do. Customer complaints have been minimal and the production volume has met or exceeded our expectations,” Holton wrote. “When the city has required emergency response, we have had no issues with Lewis providing a needed crew or crews in the (two-hour) time outlined in the contract …”

Lewis was awarded a two-year contract in June 2020 at a cost of $180,000 per year.

The now-rejected contract reflects a 7% cost increase, officials said, which is in line with the rate of inflation.

The $215,000 is what the city budgeted for line clearance tree trimming for fiscal years 3023 and 2024, documents show.

Fifth Ward Alderman Robert Swanson asked Holton to walk him through the competitive bidding process.

Holton said they would put out a notice for the specifications – which are in the council’s packet – and give bidders three to four weeks to respond.

The city would also provide maps to prospective bidders so they could look at the trees and power lines to assist in putting in their bids.

“On the day of the bid opening, we would accept whatever bids were in hand. Hopefully, we would get more than one,” Holton said.

“The past couple of times, we really struggled to get one, if not two. We hope to get three. After that point, staff would take those bid results back. We would go through them and make sure there’s not any omissions,” Holton said. “If we had not seen that company before, we would vet them and make sure they are qualified to bid if we were going to award to them. Then we make a decision to bid and bring it forward to you. That whole process takes about 60 days.”

Swanson asked since the current contract expires June 15, “should we not have been having this conversation two months ago?”

“That’s a fair point,” Holton said. “We probably should have. We have been in this situation before, a couple of years ago, when we put out the bid. We got one response. So we bid it again and later in the summer … we didn’t award that contract until August.”

Holton said the city made an agreement to get emergency services for electric line tree trimming and suspended regular tree trimming until the contract was awarded.

“I look at the process for competitive bidding as important,” Swanson said. “Request competitive bidding and we got only one bid and it was … Lewis Tree Service – so be it. But we at least went through the process established to come up with competitive bidding.”

Swanson said he didn’t see the benefit to the city of not going through the competitive bidding process if it could save money.

“I don’t see the reasoning to waive this because we ‘feel’ that we’re not going to get multiple responses. It seems to be important to me to follow our processes and if Lewis Tree Service is the only bidder and we award it to them, so be it. We at least kept our established processes,” Swanson said. “So for that reason, I would oppose waiving this.”

Fourth Ward Alderwoman Amy Mayer asked about the previous bidders who declined to bid.

“How many bidders are there in this world of line-clearing tree trimming?” Mayer asked.

“Not very many,” Holton replied. “The tree trimmers themselves have to be qualified to work within the electrical space, so that disqualifies the majority of your tree trimmers that you see around … that narrows the pool. We have had some local companies that have bid in the past. One is no longer qualified to do it. The other one indicated they no longer have the personnel to do that.”

Holton said the city is also competing with ComEd and Ameren as well to hire tree trimmers who can do electric line-clearing tree trimming.

The city actually received three bids once, Holton said, all the other times it was two or one.

Mayer said she would vote to support the no-bid contract to Lewis.

“From my perspective, that’s a win and we should just lock this in,” Mayer said. “I know that everybody is not dealing with bidding on a daily basis. And seeing what’s happening in the workforce right now, I would support going with a no-bid (contract) in this case. It’s a very specialized trade…”

Fifth Ward Alderman Craig Maladra asked if the city went out to bid, would Geneva still be able to get its trees trimmed this year?

Holton said yes.

Swanson, Maladrda, 3rd Ward Alderwoman Becky Hruby, 4th Ward Aldermen Gabriel Kaven, 2nd Ward Aldermen Bradley Kosirog and Richard Marks voted no. First Ward Aldermen Michael Bruno and Tara Burghart were absent.

Because the recommendation failed, it does not advance to the City Council for further action.

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2022-06-08 01:00:00