Board OKs purchase of vehicles

KINGMAN - The Board of Supervisors let off on the brakes Tuesday afternoon and approved the transfer of grant funds to purchase 10 new vehicles for the county Meals on Wheels programs from a dealership in Joliet, Ill.

The issue was continued from the June 15 Board meeting after Supervisor Buster Johnson suggested the county look into transferring funds from the county Owner Occupied Housing Rehabilitation program to help purchase 10 instead of nine vehicles.

The total cost for the 2009 Chevy HHRs is $172,000. The grant was for $162,368.

The decision to purchase the vehicles from an out-of-state dealership also sparked some controversy among local dealerships. Dealers said they were not notified that the county had gone out to bid for the vehicles.

"This contract is different from the normal county contracts," explained Supervisor Gary Watson.

"We were not buying off of a state contract. So the manner we went about doing this is different," said County Manager Ron Walker.

Because the grant funds come from a national source, Community Development Block Grants, the county has to accept bids from companies nationwide, said County Procurement Manager Travis Lingenfelter. The process is different from the annual county fleet vehicle purchase, which goes out for bid locally. The county is obligated by state statute to look for the lowest acceptable bid, no matter what the process, he said.

The bidding process was open to any business that wanted to bid and was posted on the county Web site, he said. The county received 11 replies to their request for bids, and the price from the Illinois dealership was the best available, he said.

The Procurement Office is accessible to the public and can pull up any contract and explain the bidding process to anyone who asks, Lingenfelter said. "We do business in a transparent way."

It was very important that the Board approve the fund transfer quickly because it would take 60 days to make changes to the grant contracts and submit them to the state, said Susie Parel-Duranceau, deputy county manager of Health and Community Services. And the prices on the vehicles were only good for 60 days, she said.

Watson asked if the transfer of funds would impact services from the Owner Occupied Housing Rehabilitation program.

Parel-Duranceau said it would affect the program, but there is a similar housing rehabilitation program available that can help residents in similar situations.

Originally, the county Senior Programs Division was looking at purchasing 10 foreign-made vehicles with funds from a Community Development Block Grant, said Community Services Manager David Wolf at the June 15 meeting. But the division found out that the county motor pool could only service domestic vehicles.

The grant funds could only support the cost of nine domestically made vehicles, he said.

Johnson's district was due to receive four new vehicles, but that number was cut to three when the division switched to domestic vehicles, Wolf said. The funds that would have purchased a fourth vehicle for Johnson's district were put toward the purchase of vehicles for the other two districts.

County Public Information Officer Darryle Purcell said that all sales tax from the purchase will go to the state of Arizona.