Niles firm wins city contract

Published 5:59 am Tuesday, October 26, 2004

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The controversy over whether to give preference to Niles area companies who bid for city contracts continued at the Niles City Council meeting Monday night.
And the Niles area contractor was the winner in the end.
The city council was set to award a three-year contract for maintenance to city parking lots to The Klippers of Cassopolis for $9,600, which was the low bid for the work.
However, Fourth Ward Councilmember Scott Clark moved that the contract be awarded instead to MAAC Property Services of Niles, which bid $9,875 - $275 greater than the low bid.
Clark said business owners here should be rewarded. "They pay taxes here. They live here. I think if we don't reward our own companies, we are deteriorating our own society," Clark said.
Councilmember Dan VandenHeede said the contract should go to The Klippers, which "won with the low bid in the competitive bidding process."
VandenHeede questioned Public Works Director Neil Coulston, asking him what he knows of the Cassopolis company.
Coulston said he doesn't think The Klippers has performed work before for the city, but that they have a number of contracts and that their references are good.
VandenHeede said, "I think they should be given an opportunity to prove themselves." In addition, VandenHeede said MAAC Property isn't located in the city, but rather Niles Township, and that Clark seems to have a conflict of interest on the issue because of the rental issue.
Third Ward Councilmember Robert Durm said he would vote to support Clark's motion, but wondered outloud whether doing so would eventually erode the competitive bid process, meaning higher prices and fewer bidders for city contracts.
Fourth Ward Councilmember Bruce Williams said low bid isn't always the best value. "I think we should have a policy supporting thee local contractors as well. It's not just the low bid, but the best value," Williams said.
Councilmembers Boggs, Williams, Clark and Durm voted to award the contract to MAAC Property Services of Niles. Councilmembers Gallagher, VandenHeede and Chute voted against the motion. Councilmember Bill Weimer was absent from Monday's meeting. Niles Mayor Mike McCauslin said he has asked City Administrator Terry Eull to draft a policy formalizing the council's ability to give preference to Niles companies.