Council scraps bids for buses, wants more money
"We as a city council can choose not to accept a bid and re-bid on something,” Ward 4 Councilman Joseph Solomon said at Monday’s council meeting in reference to a $19,918 bid recently made for 39 obsolete Warwick School Department vehicles. “I’m asking my colleagues to support me and not award this bid and go out to re-bid this for the benefit of the taxpayers.”
Solomon feels the bid is far less than the city would make if it cashed in the vehicles for scrap instead. Most of the vehicles are inoperable school buses listed in fair condition, said Purchasing Agent Jim Marcello.
To Solomon’s delight, a majority of the council agreed with him and rejected the bid on a 1-8 vote. Council President Bruce Place voted in favor of awarding the bid to the two highest submitted bidders, A&J Equipment for $18,490 and Hall’s Garage for $1,428.
But Solomon said he has received several unsolicited phone calls from vendors who told him they would have liked to have participated in the bids and indicated that they would pay more than $19,918.
“They would only have an opportunity to bid if the council refuses to award the bid,” he said.
Solomon noted that the buses weigh at least two or three tons and said scrap metal in the State of Rhode Island currently generates anywhere from $200 to $250 per ton.
“If we would sell it for scrap, we would generate more revenue for the taxpayers that is currently being generated if the city was to award this bid,” Solomon said.
Additionally, he asked School Budget Officer Anthony Ferrucci and Head of Transportation Steve O’Haire about the value of tires, as well as gasoline, on and in each of the buses.
O’Haire, who attended the meeting with Ferrucci, said there’s a possibility there may be at least a half a tank of gas in every vehicle.
“With gas at [$4] a gallon, it really adds up,” Solomon said. “With my limited knowledge of this area, I strongly believe we can generate more funds. To award a bid that is grossly undercapitalized and that could generate more income to the taxpayers would be doing an injustice on behalf of the public.”
Solomon said he wants to be clear that he does not fault the school department or Marcello for the issue, as Marcello simply followed an ordinance relative to the sale of surplus, obsolete, unused materials and junk property.
The ordinance reads that the purchasing agent shall transfer to and between department supplies and materials with the council’s approval. From there, the purchasing agent shall sell at a competitive bid.
Upon the sale of the buses, the money will be deposited into the city surplus account.
@C_Cutline:SCRAP VALUE: Ward 4 Councilman Joseph Solomon argued that the council would generate more funds for the City of Warwick if 39 obsolete school department vehicles are sold for scrap value, as opposed to selling them to the highest bidders. A majority of the council agreed, as they voted 1-8 to reject the bid. (Warwick Beacon photo by Jessica A. Botelho)