The village of Sharon Springs can’t hire a more-expensive trash hauler just because it fears the lowest bidder might raise his prices in the future, a judge ruled recently.
State Supreme Court Justice Eugene P. Devine’s ruling in favor of Randy Weaver means his Palatine Bridge-based Weaver Sanitation will take over trash collection in the village.
Weaver and Fred’s Sanitation Services Inc., of Charleston, were the sole responders to the village’s request for bids for a two-year trash contract. Weaver’s bid was $600 lower than Fred’s, but the village decided to give the contract to Fred’s.
Weaver filed a lawsuit against the village earlier this year after getting a letter from the Village Board admitting he’d submitted the lowest bid but announcing they were picking the more-expensive contract because “The Board felt it was important to note that Fred’s has not increased their cost for services for the last six years.”
For the two-year contract running from June 1, 2013 to May 31, 2015, Weaver’s bid $36,000 and Fred’s bid $36,600.
According to Devine’s ruling, state law calls for public contracts to be awarded to the “lowest responsible bidder,” and “Logic and experience teach that competition for public contracts may be promoted only by fostering a sense of confidence in potential bidders that their bids will be fairly considered.”
In the Sharon Springs case, the Village Board made a decision that wasn’t based on information prospective bidders had at the time the request for proposals was issued.
“Absent from the bid or contract information is any notice that the Board of Trustees would be considering the bidders’ histories of contract pricing and would award the bid to the company that could provide the greatest cost stabilization,” Devine said in the ruling.
“To assert, as the Board of Trustees does now, that [Weaver], ‘as one of the only two existing refuse carriers, would obtain monopolistic power and later subject the village to higher prices commensurate with those of the similarly situated Village of Cherry Valley’ is speculative, conclusory and without any record support,” Devine ruled.
Devine reversed and annulled the refuse collection contract with Fred’s Sanitation in his ruling dated Aug. 13.
A message left at the Sharon Springs village office was not returned Friday, and efforts to reach representatives from Weaver Sanitation and Fred’s Sanitation were unsuccessful.
Michelle L. Kennedy, of Cooperstown, attorney for Sharon Springs, said officials are “undecided” about appealing the ruling.
Kennedy said all parties agreed Fred’s Sanitation will continue to collect through August and Weaver Sanitation will begin the first week of September.