SUMMERSIDE – City council has approved the purchase of two new hybrid vehicles for the police department, but the bid award recommendation raised some questions with both the mayor and deputy mayor.
The city sent requests for proposals for two new hybrid cars to be used as unmarked vehicles for the police department.
Bids meeting specifications were submitted by Clark’s Toyota in the amount of $53,249 for the Camry; Kia Motors at $52,480 for the Optimum Hybrid; D Alex MacDonald for $51,686 for the Fusion; and Summerside Hyundai for the Sonata for $50,200.
Deputy police Chief Sinclair Walker took each vehicle for a test drive and found the Camry to be the most suitable.
Although it was not the lowest bid received by the city, Walker recommended that the Camry be the vehicle selected.
Police Chief David Poirier said the city purchased two Camrys seven years ago and both served the city well only requiring routine maintenance.
The police services committee followed Walker’s suggestion and recommended council approve the purchase of the two Camrys.
Mayor Basil Stewart had difficulty in accepting that the lowest bid should not be accepted and questioned the decision.
“I’m not really sure that it’s fair to say that the ones that we have required very little service,” the mayor said. “I’m not sure whether that should be a selling point.”
Stewart noted that the price submitted by Summerside Hyundai and Kia Motors were both lower than that proposed by Clark’s Toyota.
Coun. Tina Mundy, chairwoman of the police services committee supported the bid recommendation.
“I test-drive a car when I’m about to buy one,” Mundy said.
“So do I when I’m buying it for myself,” Stewart said.
“I think it’s perfectly normal,” Mundy said.
The only reason I’m asking that is the price,” Stewart said. “If the lowest bid didn’t meet the specs, fine.”
Poirier said information from both Canada and the United States lists the Camry as a class leader.
“I understand all of that,” Stewart said. “I think we’re stretching it by talking about how great the service is. It was great but to say we took one for a test drive and the service is better, I’m really not sure that’s a selling point.”
Deputy Mayor Bruce MacDougall also questioned the selection process.
“If we have specs and both bids meet the specs, are we opening ourselves up to a law suit if we didn’t take the lowest one,” he said. “We’ve been there before.”
Poirier said when the request for proposals went out it was stipulated that the lowest bid maynot necessarily accepted.
MacDougall said about two years ago the city found itself in court after if did not award a contract to a construction company. He was concerned this might happen again.
Summerside Chief Administrative Officer Bob Ashley said in the case of theconstruction contract it was a tender process where each company was bidding on the same individual items within that contract.
He said with the vehicles, it was a request for proposals for the product the company had to offer. And, although there were general specifications, it was not the same as the tendering process used for construction projects.