When the Oxford Township Parks and Recreation Commission begins spending its $2 million in bond money to upgrade the parks system next year, it won’t have to worry about seeking bids for the various projects.
Last week, the Oxford Township Board voted 6-1 to approve a resolution exempting the commission those requirements.
The hope is this “may speed up the process” of getting all the work done and potentially save money, according to township Clerk Curtis Wright.
Last month, voters approved (6,214 to 4,031) a 10-year, $2 million bond proposal to repair, replace, improve and add things in Seymour Lake, Oakwood Lake, Powell Lake and Stony Lake parks.
Normally, the township requires the solicitation of sealed bids for all contracts anticipated to cost $3,500 or more. A pair of resolutions approved by the board of trustees in the mid-1990s established this.
A Dec. 2 legal opinion from the township attorney informed the board that competitive bid solicitation is no longer legally required by the state.
Treasurer Joe Ferrari cast the lone dissenting vote because his “fear” is by not soliciting bids through the publication of public notices, the township is opening itself up to the possibility of being sued by a contractor claiming they were “excluded” from consideration for whatever reason.
“If you put it in the paper, at least you can say, ‘You had a chance to bid. You chose not to bid,’” he explained.
Ferrari pointed out this is a township bond, so the township is responsible for it.
Parks and Rec. Director Ron Davis noted “there’s always going to be that chance” that someone will make those types of claims, but it’s his “job to be fiscally responsible” and he believes his 21-year track record with the department proves he has been.
“I know you guys do a good job. It has nothing to do with you,” Ferrari noted.
While he understood Ferrari’s point, Trustee Elgin Nichols said, “You can’t make all people happy” and he appreciates the fact that the parks and recreation department hires “mostly all local people” to do its projects.
Supervisor Bill Dunn pointed out the five-member parks and recreation commission is an oversight body that’s directly elected by the people, so it should be allowed to disburse the bond money as it sees fit.
“I would agree if it was a bond that was in their name,” Ferrari replied.
The township’s resolution only exempts bond spending. “In all other respects, the Oxford Township Parks and Recreation Commission shall be subject to the (bidding requirements),” the resolution stated.