Tractor actually purchased by Florala

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

In the recent purchasing controversy in Florala, more actions are being taken to correct what Mayor T.C. Boyett freely confesses is his fault. City Clerk Lynn Hughes recently discovered that two major purchases had been made - for a knuckleboom and street sweeper - and that the purchases had been made without following the Alabama bid laws.

"We did not advertise. We did not used sealed bids," said Boyett. "This is my fault, I'm the one that goofed up. I messed up, that's all. I'm going to do what Ben Bowden (Florala's city attorney) tells me to do to fix this problem. I feel bad I did this and it makes the City of Florala looks bad and I hate that."

At the Monday night council meeting, the council voted to follow Bowden's directives and advertise the equipment for sealed bids, even though the city is already in possession of them.

Councilman Danny Franklin at the Monday night meeting of the city council pointed out that there was a third piece of equipment bought without sealed bids, a tractor purchased from Pounds Tractor Supply.

"It has been paid for," said Boyett. "But we're going to do what Ben said to do, we're going to bid this out like we have the others."

"Pounds is aware that should we get another quote lower than theirs, we they will have to return the money and we will have to return the tractor," said Hughes.

Boyett said that he did ask for bids and took the lowest offered on each piece of equipment, but the bids were in the form of open quotes.

"We shopped around," he said. "We got the best price on that type of equipment."

Having to bid the equipment out now will be harder, Boyet saidt, since the prices paid for some of the equipment have been published.

"The bidders are at a disadvantage," he said. "It's not a level playing field."

Appointed to the position of mayor last year, when former Mayor Glen Zorn accepted a post with the State of Alabama, Boyett said his newness to the position contributed to the error.

"I just happened to be a new mayor and new at a lot of this stuff.

There were an awful lot of things going on," he said.

Boyett said that was getting frustrated, knowing the city needed the equipment and that the money for it had already been approved in the May bond issue resolution which designated funds to different departments, including $250,000 to the Street Department.

"I ordered the public works director to buy the cotton-pickin' equipment," said Boyett. "No, I don't walk around thinking about the bid law all the time. I felt like I had a green light to purchase this equipment and I did."

Boyett also added that the discrepancies in the invoice dates came from the company that issued the invoices, Truck Equipment Sales Inc. out of Mobile.

"There's not a big deal." he said. "I assume the trucking company altered one of these dates, why, I have no idea. It was altered as a copy, its self-carboned paper. They altered

the date. We didn't."

"We didn't have a problem with it," said Hughes. "It's immaterial."

Hughes, who first drew attention to the matter to both the mayor and the city attorney, emphasized that there was no cover up.

"I could have kept my mouth shut and went on, but that's not the way we work in Florala," she said.

Both Boyett and Hughes said they would be glad when the issue is resolved and the city can move on.