Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Towing contract appeal goes to appeals board

The requirement that the city of Lincoln's towing company contract provide free towing and storage for city-owned vehicles isn't fair to private citizens.

It raises the cost for people unfortunate enough to get towed by the city, Lincoln attorney Peter Katt said during a meeting of the city's Procurement Appeals Board on Tuesday morning.

The bid has been advertised for city-ordered towing of people illegally parked on city streets or property and city-offered tows that occur when a police officer asks if a person wants the city to call a tow truck after an accident, Katt said.

But then the city has asked the towing company that wins the bid to also provide a "ginormous amount of free service," he said.

Is the goal to get the lowest possible cost for the private citizen or to use the contract to get a whole bunch of stuff free for the city, asked Katt, who represented Midwest Towing at the hearing Tuesday.
Midwest Towing contends bid specifications for the towing contract unfairly favor current contract holder Capital Towing.

City Attorney Steve Huggenberger argued Tuesday that the bid specifications are not illegal and are intended to assure the towing contract meets the city's needs.

"Midwest simply doesn't like city policy," he said.

The appeals board will offer its recommendations on the towing contract specifications to Mayor Chris Beutler, who makes the final decision.

The bid specs require the company to have nine specific pieces of equipment at the time of bidding, which, Katt said, are the exact equipment owned by the incumbent company.

Midwest co-owner Jeff Jackson said his company had to spend $50,000 to buy two trucks so it could bid, even though Midwest owns about 30 trucks already and could provide good service using that equipment.

The city's tow company needs to be able to tow many vehicles quickly during snow emergencies, and that specific set of equipment works, Huggenberger said.

For example, the city towed 217 vehicles from residential streets in four days during the recent snow storm.

The city made a decision to require specific vehicles rather than have penalties or a performance bond, Huggenberger said.

There are different ways to assure performance. "We wanted the company to be ready on Day 1," he said.

"We don't let two guys and a jackhammer bid a construction project," Huggenberger said.

But the city doesn't require contractors to have two cranes on a specific job, Jackson said.

The four-year tow contract can be renewed for another four years, almost guaranteeing the winner will have the city business for eight years.

Capital Towing has been the city tow company for 16 years.

No comments:

Post a Comment