NEW ASHFORD -- While the town has awarded its snowplowing contract for the 2012-13 winter season, how that contract was given has come into question.
Resident John "Jack" Haig told the Selectmen at this week's meeting that he felt the process in which the board awarded the contract last month was unfair.
"As a business man, if I put a bid in for a job, and [the job] changes at a meeting, I'd be damn mad about it," he said.
He had talked to some contractors who said they would have bid on the contract if it wasn't for the performance bond, he said.
The performance bond requirement was removed from the final contract for $54,000, which the Selectmen approved on Sept. 17. A performance bond is from a third party, and ensures that the entity awarding the contract will receive a certain amount of money if the recipient of the contract fails to fulfill it.
The snowplowing contract was also reduced from two years to one year prior to it being awarded. Both changes were made without the contract being put out to bid again.
Town Secretary Jacqueline LaCasse said that from the calls she received from prospective contractors interested in bidding on the contract, the performance bond was what killed it for them.
"I think there would have been at least three other bidders," she said.
According to the minutes from the Sept. 10 Selectmen meeting, John Goerlach, of John's Tractor and Excavation Service LLC, was the only bidder for the contract. The bid he submitted was for a one-year rate, which didn't conform to the contract requirement that the bid be for two years, the meeting minutes stated. Goerlach, who was at that meeting, said the amount was for each year of the two years, and the Selectmen decided to delay accepting the bid to make some wording changes, the meeting minutes said.
Barbara Hansberry, general counsel for the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General, said Thursday that there are a total of 34 exemptions from Massachusetts General Law Chapter 30B, and snowplowing is one of them. Chapter 30B, also known as the Uniform Procurement Act, outlines procedures for local governments to use when contracting for supplies, services and real property.
Hansberry said that because snowplowing "is not subject to the law, there is no violation of the law. But is it the best practice to change those terms? I'd say no."
Reducing the contract from two years to one year, and waiving the performance bond requirement is prejudicial to the competition, she said.
"If snowplowing was subject to the law, this is something we would advise a municipality that it should resolicit a bid for service," she said.
In other business at the meeting, Road Commissioner Keith LaCasse updated the Selectmen about a paving project involving Mallery and Roys roads, and a section of Ingraham Road.
LaCasse said the roads had been graded, but paving would be delayed until the spring.
"In talking to a state engineer, there is an exceptional amount of paving going on throughout the county. It was felt that we would get a better job done in the spring," he said.
The project, which will cost about $112,000, is being paid for with the town's Chapter 90 state highway funds.
To reach Meghan Foley, email