Bell crticizes lack of bids

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By Jeff M. Hardison

BRONSON - Levy County Commissioner Nancy Bell voted "No" in a 4-1 decision on March 18 to seek bids with a $50,000 ceiling for some specific medical equipment.

This bid, Bell told the Chiefland Citizen, is just an obligatory action that circumvents the process, which had been established to find the lowest and best bids for goods and services.

A unique set of circumstances led to Bell's blasting the other four county commissioners.

First, Levy County Emergency Medical Director Marie Wells retired. This makes Assistant EMS Director Trish Siebold the interim director. She and EMS Coordinator Royce Barber have picked up the administrative duties until a replacement can be found for Wells.

In addition to Wells' retirement, Levy County EMS has a critical need to purchase three Welch Allyn 12-lead biphasic heart monitors, Siebold said.

She found a company where she can buy three rebuilt monitors for $46,098. The average price for these monitors would be about $80,000, she told the commissioners.

Bell said any purchase over $10,000 is supposed to be through the bid process.

County Commissioner Danny Stevens made a motion to seek bids with a maximum price of $50,000 for these particular monitors. His motion was seconded by Commissioner Tony Parker and met with the 4-1 vote, where Bell dissented.

The lone dissenter said she believes the county has become lackadaisical in its keeping with the proper bid procedure.

After the meeting, Parker told the Chiefland Citizen he understands Bell's concern, and he is not against the bid policy. In this instance, however, there are professionals who are in the EMS business, Parker said. They have found an excellent purchase price on equipment that is sorely needed. Parker said he believes the commission should not let policy cost the taxpayers more money.

As it stands, this purchase was not in the budget for this fiscal year. The money will come from the contingency portion of the General Fund.

During the meeting, one member of the public argued with Bell. The District 2 commissioner had said these monitors are for backup. She asked Siebold if they were urgently needed.

Mary Golding said she believed these items were vital.

Siebold said if a monitor goes down, an ambulance will be taken off the road because it will not meet the standards required for it to be operated.

Commission Chairman Sammy Yearty restored order when Golding wanted to debate with Bell about the degree of urgency for the monitors to be bought.

Siebold was told to seek bids from two other vendors, and if those other companies cannot meet the price ceiling, then she is to ask them to enter a "no bid" statement.