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Anyone ever have this problem with a municipal contract?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Husky05, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. Husky05

    Husky05 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 307

    Ok listen to this....my local community here has a 3 year mowing and trimming contract that is for all its parks and baseball fields and right of ways, etc. Its a decent contract, 3 years not to bad of mowing because most of it is flat. Anyway, Ive wanted this contract for years, the first time I learned of it I was in college and couldnt bid on it. Then 3 years ago, I bid on it and I was not the lowest bidder. Well this year I see it advertised in the paper and I bid on it again. It was a sealed bid that I had to have notarized, and put up a bid security check. Well the day of the opening they read the bids aloud and I am the lowest bidder. I was excited....until the next day.

    Inside the contract it states under the scope of work that the contract is a 23 week mowing cycle. In addition to the mowing you have to inspect the property 1 week before mowing in the spring and after the mowing has ended you have 2 weeks to deal with the leaves. Well I have read this contract at least ten times with very much detail. It states its a 23 week contract 4 times. So under price per week I just took my yearly cost and divided it by 23 weeks. Well apparently that was wrong because I should have known to bid it over 26 weeks.

    So to make a long story short, I go to the council meeting. The borough solicitor, was a very arrogant smart@ss. Basically every time I talked he just interupted me and said "sir the contract is ambiguous" Im like how is it ambiguous its the exact same contract that I bid on 3 years ago. You were so lazy you didnt even change some of the dates from the previous contract. So he convinced the council to terminate all the bids that were turned in re-advertise and re-bid. Im like how is that fair you took my sealed bid and now made it public knowledge, everyone knows my price. The jackass attorney was like anyone can turn it what they want at this point. Im like WTF.

    So this was November 4th, I still havent seen the re-bid or got my bid money back yet. I dont know if I have any legal authority or what and help would be great!
  2. green grass lawn care

    green grass lawn care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 89

    man that stinks. i was gonna bid on a city cemetery until they told me to get a bid packet i needed to give them a "non-refundable deposit." also that i needed to have workers comp. my mom works for the state and said that as a sole prop. i don't need workers comp just the insurance that i have. she said taht i could get work for the state with that insurance. but not the city of lockhart. forget the city. good luck and that really stinks. vince
  3. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    How bids like this are run is to allow the city to acquire the lowest price, lowest bid.
    By questioning the bid amount based upon the details you essentially convinced the solicitor you were going to question the bid award process - a big no, no.
    The way to handle "ambiguous" city contracts is exactly how the solicitor was trying to get you do act - by making an effort to recognize these bid/contracts ARE flexible to a certain degree and to work with-in the constraints to save the city some "face" and for you to have a contract with guaranteed payments.
    By questioning the contract the solicitor basically thought you weren't going to be worth the effort so he negated the award.
    Remember, meetings are usually recorded in some manner so if the worse case scenario occurred the solicitor repeatedly saying the contract was ambiguous is your "enforcement" out in case this ends up in court.
    I ran a pretty large division of a NE operation in the late nineties in NE PA and all of the contracts I had with multiple municipalities were ambiguous at best.
    Believe it or not a bit of wiggle room is actually a good thing.
    I wouldn't have said one damned thing in the meeting but to accept the contract, inform the council of the start time and go about my business.
  4. mdlwn1

    mdlwn1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,443

    If your thinking of fighting or in some way being a pita to the township....you have much to learn.
  5. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    Yep. Should have left well enough alone. How does the contract read? Does it have to be mowed EVERY week? Can you back off a bit during the heat (maybe 10 day lapses) to help make up for the leaves? Is it possible the leaves will still end up in the realm of the 23 weeks?
    The first week,..the inspections, that shouldn't be a big deal...merely a walk through and MAYBE a pick up of a few sticks. So actually, you are only looking at 25 weeks. this pus you at 8% lower. Do one month of 10 day lapses, giving you one less cut and that puts you at 6%.
    However again,...with municipalities, this is how they go. One big reason why the VAST majority of operations stay away from them all together.
    as far as the security check for the bid, you will have to go down and enqure about that. They may refund it, or they may be holding onto it with the anticipation that you will bid again. Of course, you will have to bid even lower now than what you hadit for ....congratulations. Yep...municipalties? They can KEEP their $20 an acre properties.
  6. Tharrell

    Tharrell LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,967

    I had a problem with my Municipal bid also. After I won the contract, they insisted I have workers comp even though I'm solo. It was in the contract but, it was also in my state contract and they didn't require WC if you're solo.
    Anyway, the city people were real nice about it and said I could rebid but I had to be under the next bid or it would go to the next lowest bidder. I added the cost of the WC and still got it.
    BTW-More contracts are requiring WC. What I have is basically a useless WC policy called a "ghost" policy. I am not covered and if I hire someone, it goes up dramatically.
    My policy costs $800 initially every year and after they audit me, I get about $500 back for the previous year.
    They also required me to have 1 million on my trucks.
    Erie Insurance saved my butt because no one else would write a million dollar policy on trucks around here. Tony

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