The George County Board of Supervisors have been ordered to revisit the bids it received in December to pick up and dispose of the Hurricane Zeta storm debris.
In an order issued last Friday (April 30), Circuit Court Judge Kathy Jackson stated: “As the Court has voided CTC’s contract, the Court hereby directs the George County Board of Supervisors to consider all other proposals received by December 4, 2020 for the subject RFP.”
While waiting for Hurricane Zeta to be declared a national disaster, the Board advertised for bids from contractors to remove the debris piled along county highways. Twenty contractors bid on removing an estimated 150,000 cubic yards of mainly downed trees and tree limbs that had fallen on county roads. Bids ranged from a low of $1,686,613.00 to a high of over $3,000,000. State law requires the county to select the lowest qualified bidder.
Custom Tree Care LLC, headquartered in Kansas City, submitted the lowest bid. The firm has a disaster response division that travels around the county doing disaster clean up work. They had successfully worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on other disasters.
Holliday Construction LLC, of Poplarville, with the second lowest bid of $2,352,050, filed suit, claiming they should have been given the contract as CTC was not licensed as a contractor in Mississippi. The Supervisors argued a state Contractors Board Certificate of Responsibility (license) was not necessary because debris removal was not construction.
Judge Jackson ordered the supervisors to request an official opinion from the Contractors Board. That opinion was finally issued in mid-April. The contractors board said because of the heavy equipment in use and the dollar amounts of the contracts involved, a Certificate of Responsibility was required.
Judge Jackson declared the CTC contract null and void, to return to the bids received in December and select another contractor.
That may or may not be Holliday construction.
“When determining the lowest and best bid,” Jackson said in her order, “the (county) utilizes factors other than price, including: the bidder’s honesty and integrity, the bidder’s skill and business judgement, the bidder’s experience and facilities for carrying out the contract, the bidder’s conduct under previous contracts, and the quality of work previously done by the bidder.”
The Judge retains jurisdiction and will review the County’s consideration of the remaining bidders.
The Supervisors met in closed session on Monday to formulate a plan of action in response to the Judge’s order.