Beaver County’s financial guard dogs are calling into question a contract awarded by the local Department of Public Works. The county has contracted with a company called E.P. Painting to paint some 83 storage shelves located in the Gateway Commerce Center, at a cost of $12,450. The shelving units are used to archive public records and court filings, and are warehoused in a Wampum facility leased by the county commonly known as “the mines.”
The contract first raised eyebrows when a purchase order request came in from the Department of Public Works on April 16th in the amount of $9,999 — Beaver County’s Policy on Purchasing and Procurement requires contracts of $10,000 or more to be advertised, with sealed bids from local suppliers being opened only in public meetings.
“Not only did this come in without a legal bidding process, they didn’t even supply quotes from other vendors” said Mary Anne Ruskin, Director of Purchasing for Beaver County. For contracts valued at $750 or more, Row Officers and Department Heads are generally required to supply 3 quotes along with their request for a purchase order.
Jim Camp, Director of Beaver County’s Public Works Department, resubmitted his request for a purchase order on April 27th along with 3 quotes. Included were Winterrowd & Sons with a quote of $16,600, James Troup Painting with a quote of $13,695, and the original E.P. Painting whose quote increased from the $9,999 to $12,450.
“I have 3 quotes, but now they’re all over $10,000 which means this job should have been placed to legal bid, at least under the old law” said Ruskin.
State law which once required legal bids on contracts of $10,000 or more, changed this year to include contracts of $18,500 or more — But Beaver County’s procurement policy remained the same.
“The Commissioners set a policy in 2008 that has not changed. Any purchases of $10,000 or more require legal bids” said County Controller David Rossi. “The Commissioners have set a standard that requires a tighter control of funds than what the state currently requires, and that’s not a bad thing [...] If they want to increase that limit, they can choose to change their policy. But until they do that, I’m enforcing what’s on the books.”
Emmanuel Panagiotakis, president of E.P. Painting Inc, said his company’s original bid was never in the amount of $9,999, as paperwork from the Department of Public Works shows. “I didn’t quote this as a lump sum, I quoted this on a per-unit basis” he said. Other paperwork supplied to the Beaver Countian appears to show E.P. Painting’s original quote was for $130 per unit, which should have totaled $10,790 for the project — An amount which would have triggered the legal bidding process.
As for the increase in the amount of his quote after the Department of Public Works was required to procure additional bids, Panagiotakis said the county came back to him with more detailed specifications. “I didn’t know the first time that we would have to be using environmentally friendly paint, they never told me that, it costs twice as much to buy” said Panagiotakis, whose per unit quote went from $130 to $150.
Panagiotakis said he would have needed to submit a change order request had he originally been awarded the contract, after finding out about the county’s paint requirements.
“This might be a few thousand dollars difference, and it might not seem like a lot, but it’s the aggregate that I worry about. Things like this happening over and over all adds up to a lot of taxpayer money” said Controller David Rossi. “This is over the $10,000 amount that requires legal bidding, so I’ll be looking into this invoice when it comes in.”
Public Works Director Jim Camp did not return a message seeking comment left Friday afternoon.