As the Jackson City Council met last week during their monthly meeting and previously on Dec. 1 during their agenda review, questions came up regarding a couple of issues having only one bid for contracts with the City.
Purchasing Director Zack Polk had one bid submitted for separate contract bids for which he published requests for proposals.
But Council member Tara Skinner had questions about Polk’s methods regarding the RFPs.
The requests in question were for a real estate brokerage firm and an on-call sidewalk and pavement restoration and repair service.
Hickman Realty broker Alan Castleman submitted the bid for the real estate brokering, while Pavement Restorations, Inc. applied for the pavement and sidewalk repair retainer.
In each case, they were the only one to bid, and Skinner wanted to know why, particularly regarding the real estate bid as she’s a real estate agent and never saw the RFP posted anywhere.
She questioned Polk’s methods, asking if the RFP was sent to individual businesses or posted somewhere digitally for anyone to see.
“We have a vendor list that was already put together before I moved into this position that I’ve been using, and we have places we’re required to list it like on the City’s website,” Polk said.
Polk was promoted to purchasing director in July, and Mayor Scott Conger said Polk has been looking at different ways to improve the process.
“He and his team have been working hard to get RFPs out to more vendors, particularly ones that will be more likely to submit bids,” Conger said. “And it’s a work in progress that will take time.”
Skinner, Sam Turner and Richard Donnell all had questions – either at agenda review or in the meeting – about the process and different methods Polk may or may not have tried.
More experienced members of the Council who’ve been around longer have asked similar questions of Polk’s predecessor Susan White and got similar responses.
“We have several newer members that are asking good questions about our purchasing process that we’ve asked before,” said Council member Russ McKelvey. “It’s important that we do our best when spending taxpayer money. We appreciate Zack and his team for working hard to provide quality bids.”
“We’re looking at new ways to get the RFPs out in front of more vendors’ eyes, and we’ll take any suggestions,” Polk told Skinner at agenda review.
Skinner responded by suggesting industry associations like the West Tennessee Realtors Association would probably be a good place to post RFPs and let the associations send them out to all their members.
“If you can get them to do that, that would guarantee every realtor in the city and surrounding areas would receive that RFP and they could have that opportunity,” Skinner said. “Because I can tell you I never saw this RFP anywhere.”
Being a member of the Council, Skinner wouldn’t be able to bid on the contract, but she said she’d still feel better knowing if she saw it then others probably would have as well.
The Council approved the pavement repair bid while tabling the real estate discussion for a later meeting.
Brandon Shields, firstname.lastname@example.org