Brittney Burns – Staff Writer
Tuesday night, an upset Franklin Ford employee spoke during public comment period of the Macon County Board of Commissioners meeting, questioning their recent vote to award a contract for new patrol SUVs to an out of county company.
“I don’t agree with how this board voted to support local business at your last meeting, “ said Bryon Lamb, who serves as the Service Supervisor at Franklin Ford. “It took less than one minute to take $181,000 bid to another county.”
In the July 13 edition of The Macon County News, it was reported that “State statute mandates that the lowest responsible bidder be awarded the contract. As the lowest bidder, Jacky Jones will be providing the new vehicles to Macon County at a cost of $30,328,82 each for a total of $181,972.92.”
Lamb claimed to commissioners that that information was incorrect.
“I have seen some false reporting, or maybe they were just ignorant and didn’t understand, stating that they [Macon County] had to go with the lowest bid, but I understand from the counsel that I have received that that is absolutely false.”
Macon County Attorney Chester Jones informed Lamb that he was incorrect in the assumption that Macon County didn’t have to go with the lowest bidder, and referenced the state statute, which was originally and correctly reported in The Macon County News last month.
“I don’t have the exact statute in front of me, but according to General Statute 143-129, the bid must be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, and in this situation, it was a small amount of money, and I will tell you that this board, the county manager, and all involved lamented that the business was going out of county. But you are required by statute to take the lowest responsible bid and the bid that was awarded was lower than your company’s,” said Jones.
NC General Statute 143-129 states: “All proposals shall be opened in public and the board or governing body shall award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder or bidders, taking into consideration quality, performance and the time specified in the proposals for the performance of the contract.”
The county received bids from two other companies, locally owned Franklin Ford and Parks Chevrolet out of Charlotte. Franklin Ford narrowly missed winning the county contract, with a total bid about $300 more than Jacky Jones.
Lamb also questioned the county’s procedure for handling the bids, and suggested that maybe the bidding process wasn’t sealed, as required.
“Are all those bids secret, until they are all brought tighter?” Lamb asked.
“They must be sealed,” sad Chester Jones.
“Well, I was looking at the bid, and granted I am in the dealership world so I see all this probably more than anyone else, but I can’t hardly even understand how a business owner would bid a bid like this, exactly $50 net loss per car,” said Lamb. “Because that is what it was. I mean it’s great for the county, but I looked at this and each one of those cars were bid at a $50 net loss?”
According to General Statute 143-129, “Bids shall be sealed and the opening of an envelope or package with knowledge that it contains a bid or the disclosure or exhibition of the contents of any bid by anyone without the permission of the bidder prior to the time set for opening in the invitation to bid shall constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor.”