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Businesses question bidding

Staff writer

Representatives of three Marion County businesses met with Marion County Commission Monday to express concerns about the bidding process on a recent purchase of a tractor mower.

Dale Nuss of Ag Power of Hillsboro, Mike Kleiber of Ag Service of Hillsboro, and Marlin Bartel of Straub International of Marion said their businesses weren’t invited to present bids for a tractor mower. The county purchased one from Prairieland Partners of Marion for $82,917.08.

Nuss said it wasn’t clear from reading the Hillsboro Free Press if there were any other bids or invitations to bid.

“I feel this purchase was, at least, irresponsible,” Nuss said.

Road and bridge superintendent John Summerville said the county set specifications for brands of mower decks known to be high quality, and he contacted listed dealers for those brands. One of the dealers invited to bid declined the chance, but referred Summerville to Prairieland Partners.

The county also received bids of $110,921, $95,681, and $75,119 from Sellers Equipment of Wichita and $101,015 from Wichita Tractor Co., but the $75,119 bid didn’t meet the county’s specifications, which was reported in the Marion County Record, Hillsboro-Star Journal, and Peabody Gazette-Bulletin.

The commission and those in attendance discussed ways to prevent county businesses from missing bid invitations.

Marion County communications and emergency management director Michele Abbott-Becker suggested posting bid invitations on the county’s Web site.

Nuss said he receives bid invitations from Salina via e-mail.

Marion County Clerk Carol Maggard said she considered online postings to be the best option. E-mail addresses can be missed, and newspaper advertisements can be expensive, she said.

Whatever solution is chosen, Marion County businesses still should be called with invitations to bid, Nuss said.

Excluding county businesses from the bidding process was never the intention, Summerville said.

“It won’t happen again,” he added.

In other business:

  • The county approved the purchase of a snowblower for the courthouse square from Seacat Hardware of Marion for $999.99. The county also received bids of $1,000 from Hillsboro Hardware and $1,065 from Peabody Hardware and Lumber.
  • Register of deeds Jo Ottensmeier told the commission her office needs two new tract books to record land exchanges. The only company she could find that sells the books is Lockwood Company, which quoted a price of $565 per book, for a total of $1,130. The commission unanimously approved the purchase.

Last modified Dec. 10, 2008

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