McMinnville Police Department may have to wait an extra few months to replace a patrol car that was totaled in December. Officials rejected a plea from Chief Bryan Denton for swift action in order to give local dealers a chance to bid.
“I make a motion we get a local bid,” said Alderman Mike Neal. The motion received a second and passed unanimously by Neal and Aldermen Rick Barnes and Jimmy Bonner.
Denton had asked officials to accept a prior bid received by the city in September for a 2013 Chevrolet Impala Police Pursuit Sedan in the amount of $20,695 from Chevrolet of Murfreesboro.
“I called and the company is still going to honor that bid,” said Denton. “A car is available so we are making that our recommendation. We will get the vehicle pretty fast that way. We are in a minor bind. Time is not terribly of the essence, but the sooner we can get the vehicle the better.”
The department has been one vehicle short since early December when one of its officers was involved in a two-vehicle accident totaling both. The police car was one of the department’s 2008 vehicles. The insurance company recently settled with the city for approximately $12,000.
However, taking the prior bid would eliminate any chance of a local dealership submitting a bid.
“I would like to get a local bid on it,” said Barnes.
Denton says going out for bids will end the department’s chances of getting a vehicle quickly.
“If we go out for bids, we are locked into about three weeks to take bids and a couple meetings of the board to accept one of the bids,” Denton said. “There is also a 60- to 90-day wait for the vehicle to be delivered. This vehicle is available now. We will do whatever you guys tell us to do, but history tells us we are not going to get a better bid.”
Bonner wanted to go with the vehicle recommended.
“If it was a fleet of cars, I could understand going out for bids on it,” he said. “I don’t see doing that for one vehicle and using the insurance settlement. I make a motion we go with Denton’s recommendation.”
When the motion failed due to lack of a second, Neal made his motion to try for “a local bid.”
Officials can go out for bids on the purchase, but they must stay in compliance with state law regarding competitive bidding, which says all qualified bidders must be given a fair opportunity to enter the bidding process.
Bid acceptance cannot be restricted to local businesses only, says city recorder Shirley Durham.
“When we go out for bids, we have to accept bids from everybody. We can’t just accept local bids,” Durham said.
Bidding laws exist to protect the public from misuse or waste of public funds. Officials must accept the lowest and best bid, regardless of business location.
According to city administrator David Rutherford, the officials can give a “preference” to a local company if the price and item offered is the same as a company that is not local.
“A local preference can be given, all things being equal,” Rutherford said.