Despite being advised by County Attorney Keith Bartley that the purchase may run afoul of state law, the Floyd County Fiscal Court approved purchasing a truck without going through the required bid process.
During a meeting on Oct. 15, the fiscal court approved paying $20,000 for a truck the county purchased without seeking bids, as required, bringing the total purchased from one company, Pop’s Chevrolet, to more than $67,000 over the past few months.
In August, the fiscal court held the second reading of an ordinance that raises its minimum threshold for purchases that require bidding to $30,000, in compliance with state law.
But officials did not appear to understand Tuesday that the $30,000 threshold is not for single purchases, but for the total purchases from the same vendor in one fiscal year.
The conversation about Tuesday’s purchase started with a question from Magistrate Ronnie Akers, who pointed out the bill list included a $20,000 truck purchase at Pop’s Chevrolet.
Judge-Executive Robbie Williams told Akers that the county got a three-quarter ton truck for the parks, saying it would be used to pull the excavator and to clean up illegal dumps.
Akers asked whether the company has another one, saying a truck road department workers in his district use to pull an excavator has a rotten floorboard.
Williams said the person he dealt with at Pop’s Chevrolet sent him another text, telling him they had another truck available for sale.
“But you got to bid it,” Bartley said.
Williams said, “Well, what we’re trying to do is get some of these trucks and things traded out. That truck, the transmission is out of it, and what we did is they picked the truck up, picked up the truck up yesterday to go try to put another transmission in the other truck the parks had. That was a good buy on that truck. That was a three-quarter ton truck. We got it for $20,000. That truck booked for, like, $26,000.”
He asked Akers what kind of truck his district needs. Then, he suggested that Akers visit Pop’s Chevrolet or other car lots to see what vehicles are available.
“Well, just, what you probably need to do is just stop up there from time to time and see what they get, or any of these car lots locally to see what you can find, what you need,” Williams told him. “I mean, look, here’s the thing. We need to keep these equipment updated as much as possible. We don’t want to get — That’s what we’ve been doing since we got in is trying to get this stuff updated because nothing worse to me than you have guys sitting around; the equipment’s broke down. You have guys that can’t work; trucks are broke down. You’re having to work on trucks. We need guys doing their job. We don’t need them sitting here working being mechanics for the day. So, what I’d do, Ronnie, is kind of look around and see what you can find.”
Akers asked Bartley whether the fiscal court would have to seek bids to buy trucks.
“If it’s under $30,000, we don’t,” Williams told Akers.
Bartley corrected him.
“If it’s $30,000 in a year with the same vendor,” he said. “Then, yes, you do. So, you’ve already spent $20,000 with this vendor, at least. I don’t know if you bought anything else from them or not. But if you’re going to get another truck that’s in excess of $10,000, then that’s more than $30,000.”
Williams asked, “So, it’s $30,000 with the same vendor?”
“Yep,” he was told by both Bartley and County Treasurer David Layne.
The fiscal court unanimously approved the bills, which included the $20,000 truck purchase from Pop’s Chevrolet.
That makes more than $67,500 that the fiscal court has spent with Pop’s Chevrolet since August, and the last purchase was also initially made without the fiscal court seeking bids, as required by law. In January, the fiscal court approved another resolution, allowing the jailer to spend $31,700 to replace a truck, with the jailer referring to a “state quote” of $31,700 from Pop’s Chevrolet for that vehicle. With that purchase, the county and the jail have spent about $100,000 at that company this year.
In August, the fiscal court voted to spend $47,500 to buy two vehicles from that company for the county senior citizens program without seeking bids. The resolution approved at that meeting said that Williams “has entertained bids” for the vehicles, two 2020 Chevy Equinox that cost $23,755 each, but Williams confirmed that the county did not seek bids to buy them. Officials reported those trucks were purchased mostly with grant funding.
After the no-bid purchase was reported in the Floyd County Chronicle and Times, the fiscal court voided the check and sought bids instead. Later that month, the fiscal court accepted the only bid from Pop’s Chevrolet, and saved about $620 on the purchase.
The fiscal court approved $585,200 in bills at the meeting, with $196,200 in the general fund, $151,200 in the road fund, $68,000 at the jail, $62,700 in Local Government Economic Assistance Funds, $70,000 in emergency disaster funding and $38,000 for E911 services.
The bill list included $22,000 to H&C Construction for cribbing work in McDowell, $10,000 for work at the community center and, among other things, nearly $16,700 for fuel, gas cards and travel for county employees and officials.
The bill list included payment of another $39,000 for bridge repairs that was paid to Elite Concrete Construction. It does not appear that the fiscal court sought bids for that work.
The list included $49,740 paid to Nattco for a retaining wall on Tinker Fork. In August, the fiscal court approved a bid from that company for $10,000 less than that amount for that project. This week’s bill list also included another $13,000 paid to Nattco for a retaining wall on Old Mare Creek Road. The bidding requirement for the Mare Creek project, however, may have not been necessary in this case because it was for a federal emergency project.