Ionia County commissioner upset township didn’t consider his late bid

By Emilee Nielsen • Last Updated 8:38 pm on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Members of the Otisco Township Board of Trustees, with Clerk Lynda Sower absent, discussed a number of different issues during Tuesday evening’s meeting, which lasted more than two hours.

OTISCO TOWNSHIP — A bid for lawn care services led to unexpected drama Tuesday evening.

During the regular meeting of the Otisco Township Board, the board opened a bid from Borek Services of Smyrna for lawn care services at the township hall, the lot next to the hall, the Otisco Cemetery and the Smyrna Cemetery.

Ionia County Commissioner David Hodges

Included in Borek Services bid was $250 a month or $1,500 for six months for the township hall and the lot next to the hall; $583 a month or $3,500 for six months for the Otisco cemetery; and $583 a month or $3,500 for six months if everything were priced separately for the Smyrna Cemetery. If the township board decides to move forward with Borek Services for all the lawn work, the price would be $1,416 for one month or $8,500 for six months.

The bid also included rates for spring and fall cleanups and rates for cleanup from storm damage. Attached to the bid was proof of liability insurance, per the township board’s request.

Trustees Ben Oatley, left, and Dan Zeigler look over financial documents during a public hearing on the 2017-2018 budget for the township during Tuesday evening’s regular meeting.

There was some question after the bid was opened about whether that was the only bid received. Supervisor Joseph Daller said it was the only bid received before the deadline set forth by the township in the request for bids that ran in The Daily News and the Ionia Sentinel-Standard several times over a two-week period.

Ionia County’s District 1 Commissioner David Hodges of Belding attempted to stand to address the board during discussion about this matter, but Daller asked him to wait until public comment to address the board. Hodges had also submitted a bid for lawn care services, but he was late in submitting his bid. Hodges said he does not subscribe to a newspaper and did not see the request for bids advertised.

Trustee Dan Zeigler said he “had a real issue” with not looking at Hodges’ bid.

“Dave’s done the cemeteries for five years and he’s done a good job,” he said. “I’m not saying this other gentleman wouldn’t do a good job, but I just think this day and age loyalty has gone out the window.”

Zeigler said since the board didn’t even open the bids until Tuesday’s meeting, perhaps policy could be updated to allow for bids to be accepted up until the end of business on the day of a meeting that bids were scheduled to be opened.

Treasurer Cara Johnson said she agreed with that sentiment, but she noted Hodges’ bid came in late and she believes it would “open a can of worms” to accept the bid based on loyalty or to extend the opening for bids.

Treasurer Cara Johnson, left, and Supervisor Joseph Daller review documents during Tuesday evening’s regular meeting of the Otisco Township Board.

“If we make an exception this time, we have to make that exception every time,” she said.

Daller agreed.

“Yes, it is unfortunate we only received one bid during the time we had stated the township would receive bids,” he said. “I guess I’m in agreement with Cara that to extend it now would be difficult to do.”

When the time for public comment arrived, Hodges stood and told the board he believes he was wronged by not being made aware of the deadline for bids because he was vacationing in Florida for the last month. He noted that Clerk Lynda Sower, who was absent from Tuesday’s meeting due to illness, called him while he was in Florida on an unrelated note and didn’t tell him about the bid deadline.

“Lynda knew I was gone for a month,” he said. “She took the time to do that but didn’t have the courtesy to say, ‘Hey Dave, the bid needs to be in on the 7th.’”

Sower told The Daily News she thought Hodges had been made aware of the deadline. She said she was under the impression that Hodges had asked for the project to be put out for bid and that he was aware of the deadline.

“I was planning on calling him but when I was told … the real reason we were doing it this early because Dave Hodges requested it,” she said. “It wasn’t deliberate on my part. Normally, I would have called Dave (but I was told) he already knows.”

Tuesday’s lawn care bid discussion ended with the board deciding to schedule a meeting with Borek Services to make sure the company understands the scope of work involved. The lawn care bid was not voted on.

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