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To the editor:
One has to wonder after the recent problems within the Wachusett Business Office if anyone there knows what they are doing!
A couple of weeks ago a contractor from West Brookfield came to the central office wanting to give a price on plowing the high school and the central office in Jefferson. The district has had a local contractor doing this work for many years without issue. So the business office thought it would be a good idea to get prices for this work and asked the West Brookfield contractor to place a bid on some poorly worded specifications. This same person in the office asked the local contractor to do the same even though 2 weeks prior they had already submitted a detailed quote for the 2012-2013 season. When the pricing came back the local company was clearly lower in all aspects and, in fact, 2 to 3 times lower. The West Brookfield contractor asked to see the prices and was shown them by the person in the central office. He said the specifications weren’t clear and wanted a do over.
At this point the local company requested to see the West Brookfield contractor’s quote. A new quote form was sent to both contractors in the exact format that had been originally submitted by the local company. So now knowing the pricing from the vendor that has done the work for many years, the West Brookfield contractor undercut the” per inch” pricing by $2.00 to $12.00 depending on the increment and also lowered their “sanding only” pricing from $770.00 to $440.00 to match the local contractor.
Based on a process that had poorly written specifications and then providing the high bidder with the low bidders pricing, the West Brookfield contractor was awarded the bid. With the undercutting of the prices, the district will save at most, a couple hundred dollars a year. This decision puts local people out of their winter jobs and gives the work to people that live many miles away.
In addition if the district wanted to get competitive pricing, which is always a good idea, wouldn’t you think they would ask the many qualified contractors that live and work within the Wachusett region? No other local company was asked to bid on this major contract, only the company from West Brookfield.
Before this job was quoted, there should have been very specific specifications written which should have included at least, proximity to Wachusett Regional 10 mile radius + - and a requirement of a certain number of pieces of equipment of various sizes. If these specifications were written correctly and then advertised to anyone within the required radius of Wachusett Regional there would not be a problem or question. This was not the case, instead only the long standing local company and someone from 30 + miles away were asked.
When you think how much money in taxes, both business and personal, that any of the qualified local companies pay why would we send the business to a contractor so far away? When you consider that local people who make a living working for local companies are now not doing this work does that make sense?
One has to question if the recent changes in the business office were really a cure for what seems to be a bigger problem of decision making at all levels! One has to wonder if there should be wholesale changes within the central office business department to bring some credibility back to our school district?
Former Holden Selectman