BOC re­scinds bid pro­posal, re­con­sid­ers IGA deal

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - DARRYL WELCH dwelch@cov­news

The New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers (BOC) voted Tues­day night to re­scind a RFQP #16-06A (Re­quest for Qual­i­fi­ca­tions and Pro­pos­als) from March 2016. The RFPQ so­licited bids for solid waste ser­vice for the un­in­cor­po­rated parts of New­ton County.

The move will end the cur­rent bid­ding process for a con­tract to pro­vide solid waste ser­vices for the county. In­cluded in the bid re­quest was stip­u­la­tion that re­quired “Fur­nish­ing all ma­te­ri­als and equip­ment and per­form­ing all la­bor nec­es­sary for the oper­a­tion of a manda­tory/ vol­un­teer curb­side col­lec­tion pro­gram …” The word “manda­tory” in the doc­u­ment had been a point of con­tention for many cit­i­zens.

Com­mis­sioner Ron­nie Cowan who pro­posed the move said the “rescis­sion of the ini­tial RFQPI elim­i­nates the op­por­tu­nity for that con­tract to be ac­cepted. The RFQPI was ini­ti­ated by the BOC last March there­fore we have the au­thor­ity to re­scind the re­quest.”

Com­mis­sion­ers Nancy Schulz, Lanier Sims, Stan Edwards and J.C. Hen­der­son spoke in fa­vor of the move, which was unan­i­mously ap­proved. County at­tor­ney Megan Martin told com­mis­sion­ers that a new pro­cure­ment process would need to be is­sued by the BOC prior to any fu­ture bids for solid waste ser­vice in the county.

The com­mis­sion cham­ber erupted in ap­plause after the vote.

BOC sends IGA back to sub­com­mit­tee

The BOC also voted to send its in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal agree­ment (IGA) with the Solid Waste Au­thor­ity (SWA) back to the joint BOC/SWA sub­com­mit­tee for fur­ther re­vi­sion.

The board had voted ear­lier in the meet­ing to re­scind the RFPQI ini­ti­ated by the BOC in March 2016 so­lic­it­ing a bid to pro­vide solid waste ser­vices to un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas of the county.

The re­vised IGA had been worked on dur­ing a joint sub­com­mit­tee meet­ing March 14. Sub­se­quent to that meet­ing, ac­cord­ing to at­tor­ney Sam VanVolken­burgh, there was an email ex­change with fur­ther pro­posed re­vi­sions.

“The Solid Waste Au­thor­ity met on Thurs­day (March 16) and ap­proved a re­vised IGA amend­ment doc­u­ment with a cou­ple of key changes to what was ini­tially pro­posed after the sub­com­mit­tee meet­ing,” VanVolken­burgh said.

VanVolken­burgh went on cau­tion the com­mis­sion­ers that due to a tight dead­line, any fur­ther re­vi­sions sug­gested by the BOC would re­quire a quick con­sid­er­a­tion and ap­proval by the SWA.

Cowan, a mem­ber of the sub­com­mit­tee, told the board he could not, in good faith, ad­vise any­body to agree to the terms of the new IGA. He said that re­scind­ing the RFPQ and re­mov­ing the idea of manda­tory curb­side ser­vice from the dis­cus­sion was help­ful.

“We still have some is­sues over there that we are in dis­agree­ment on,” Cowan said. “We want to get it right be­fore we sign it.”

Schulz, who is also a mem­ber of the SWA, said she thinks both par­ties are very close. She said she also has con­cerns she would like more clar­ity on. She, too, agreed re­scind­ing the March 2016 bid re­quest will be help­ful.

“I be­lieve that the ac­tion we took ear­lier tonight does give the pub­lic the con­fi­dence that the Ad­vanced con­tract is now off the ta­ble be­cause we have re­moved that RFQPI,” Schulz said.

She said it is im­por­tant the board com­mu­ni­cates its con­fi­dence in the SWA and every­body un­der­stands that ac­tions taken by the board are to pro­tect New­ton County.

Edwards and Sims spoke in fa­vor of keep­ing con­ve­nience cen­ters open. Both also sug­gested that the pub­lic should be charged enough to use the cen­ters for the county to at least break even.

“The cit­i­zens, the ones that I’ve talked to, un­der­stand that free trash is over. Con­ve­nience cen­ters, curb­side and land­fill,” Edwards said. “I’ve said all along charge enough so we, at a min­i­mum, break even at the con­ve­nience cen­ters.”

“Many cit­i­zens do love the con­ve­nience cen­ters, but we have to charge an ap­pro­pri­ate price to cover those costs or at least get us close to break even,” Sims said.

Cowan said it im­por­tant in the fi­nal plan to find a way to uti­lize lo­cal haulers and find a place for the con­ve­nience cen­ters.

County Man­ager Lloyd Kerr sug­gested the com­mis­sion­ers make their pri­or­i­ties for the agree­ment known to the sub­com­mit­tee in or­der to ex­pe­dite the process.

The vote to re­turn the IGA to the sub­com­mit­tee was ap­proved 5-0.

Board ap­proves new Code of Ethics

The board also re­viewed and ap­proved the county’s new Code of Ethics.

Ac­cord­ing to the new pol­icy, its pur­pose is to “es­tab­lish, pro­mote and en­force stan­dards of eth­i­cal con­duct for all of the county’s of­fi­cers and em­ploy­ees.”

The pol­icy lays out the cir­cum­stances un­der which county em­ploy­ees and of­fi­cials may and may not ac­cept gifts. It also ex­plains con­flict of in­ter­est rules gov­ern­ing em­ploy­ees and of­fi­cials in­volved in pri­vate busi­nesses who want to do busi­ness with the county.

Con­flicts of in­ter­est in em­ploy­ment and hir­ing are also cov­ered in the ethics code. Ac­cord­ing to the pol­icy, no em­ployee or of­fi­cial can ap­point or hire any mem­ber of their fam­ily to fill an of­fice, po­si­tion or duty when the salary, pay or com­pen­sa­tion comes out of pub­lic funds. The word “fam­ily” is de­fined in the pol­icy.

The pol­icy also re­quires any per­son sub­mit­ting bids or pro­pos­als for county work who has con­trib­uted $250 or more to a county of­fi­cial to dis­close on their bid the name of the of­fi­cial and the amount of the con­tri­bu­tion.

Un­der the new code, board mem­bers along with the chair­man are re­quired to “im­me­di­ately dis­close pub­licly the na­ture and ex­tent of any fi­nan­cial or per­sonal in­ter­est in any pro­posed leg­is­la­tion or ac­tion be­fore the board.” It also re­quires other county em­ploy­ees and of­fi­cials who give of­fi­cial rec­om­men­da­tions or opin­ions on leg­is­la­tion to pub­licly dis­close any fi­nan­cial in­ter­est they have in the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion.

The new pol­icy also in­cludes lan­guage about a county ethics panel and lays out the rules gov­ern­ing who is on it, its pow­ers and when it can be em­pan­eled.

The new code was ap­proved by the BOC by a 5-0 vote, with ex­cep­tions for any de­part­ments or of­fices not sub­ject to the Code of Ethics.

Pro­cure­ment and check writ­ing pol­icy fi­nal­ized

After weeks of con­sid­er­a­tion, the board ap­proved a pro­cure­ment and check writ­ing pol­icy.

The new pol­icy re­quires ad­e­quate sup­port­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion be­fore any check is is­sued. It also states that pay­ment checks to ven­dors shall not be is­sued by the fi­nance depart­ment un­til the depart­ment head or other au­tho­rized depart­ment em­ployee has ap­proved the in­voice or other sup­port­ing doc­u­ments. Ac­cord­ing to the pol­icy, this is nec­es­sary to make sure that no checks are is­sued just be­cause an in­voice has been ap­proved.

The pol­icy re­quires that depart­ment heads or au­tho­rized em­ploy­ees “care­fully check the in­voice, as­sure that the goods have been re­ceived in good con­di­tion and cor­rect quan­tity (or that the ser­vice has been ad­e­quately per­formed) prior to ap­prov­ing pay­ment.”

The new pol­icy states checks can only be signed by au­tho­rized sign­ers. The Chair­man of the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers, the County Man­ager and the County Fi­nance Di­rec­tor are au­tho­rized to sign checks. All county checks must be signed by two sign­ers. BOC mem­bers are au­tho­rized sign­ers in the ab­sence of the Chair­man, County man­ager of Fi­nance Di­rec­tor.

Many cit­i­zens do love the con­ve­nience cen­ters, but we have to charge an ap­pro­pri­ate price to cover those costs or at least get us close to break even.” — Lanier Sims, New­ton County com­mis­sioner

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