10. ITB # 16-752-026 Tree Cutting and Trimming Services Award Approval
The Invitation to Bid (ITB) for Tree Cutting and Trimming Services was issued on November 5, 2015 and notification of the upcoming bid was sent via email to four (4) firms. The solicitation was advertised in the Champion, posted on the District website, Georgia Procurement Registry and DemandStar. A mandatory pre-bid conference was conducted on November 19, 2015. Four (4) people were in attendance, representing three (3) companies. Bids were received in accordance with ITB documents on December 15, 2015. Three (3) vendors submitted bids for this project.
Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer
Request the approval for bids for tree cutting services, Casey Tree Experts, Inc., and Richmond Tree Experts, Inc. where the lowest bidders. All contracts which exceed the $100,000 threshold for these services will be brought back to the Board for formal approval.
Dr. Michael Erwin, Board of Education
Will you or these services survey the schools and put a list of projects together?
It’s a collaborative partnership between the school principals, custodial staff, and internal staff. These vendors will also provide guidance.
Is there currently a back log?
We are caught up, but need to go out to some schools.
Vickie Turner, Board of Education
Are principals aware they can submit requests for these services?
Yes, through our formal work order management system.
Are the upkeep of the grounds the responsibility of the school house staff or the central office staff?
Middle and High Schools it is the responsibility of school house staff. Elementary schools, we have grass cutters that go to all the schools. We are looking into outsourcing lawn maintenance.
What’s the process for a school to request an analysis of the trees? Does the fee come from the schools budget? Can we get that in an email?
Yes, I’ll get those answers to you in an email.
If you cut a tree down, do you plant one?
We hire the support of an arborist. Part of their recommendation would be whether or not to plant trees.
Stan Jester, Board of Education
You mentioned we sent out for a bid to 4 firms. Tree cutting seems like a generic service and seems like there would be more than 4 firms qualified to do this.
The RFP was posted on the district website and advertised in other places. Only 3 of them provided bids.
As part of the procurement process, when only 3 bids came back did we reevaluate why there’s only 3 bids?
Absolutely. We go through a formal evaluation of whether or not they submitted for whatever particular reason. In this case 4 people attended a pre-bid conference, but only 3 provided quotes. So only 75% provided bids.
Any estimation on how many firms provide this service?
I would suspect there would be a number of firms, but only 4 participated in the pre bid conference.
Did you contact any other companies and ask them why they didn’t bid?
Seems like that would be a best practice in procurement. I’m no procurement expert, but we have some on staff I assume.
Yes. In purchasing and operations we have certified staff. The intent was to make sure we provide notification across a broad spectrum. We’ll work with the vendor pool to get more responses.
Dr. Stephen Green, Superintendent
3 responses isn’t ideal. But I don’t know about chasing down those that didn’t respond and ask them why. If there were only 2 responses, maybe we go back. But these are business folks and if there’s an opportunity and it’s advertised, they have to make a decision. Maybe there are a lot of businesses out there that chose not to go with us.
I’m satisfied with this.
I’m trying to milk every last dollar out of the tree companies. If we can save $80K, that’s another teacher we can get. Every last dollar we can get and I want to make sure we are following best practices on procurement.
I echo what Dr. Green said. I think we got a good amount of responses. I’m not sure of the benefit of hunting down people to find out why you didn’t bid on a project. These are mature business owners. Either you want to bid or you don’t want to bid. I think 3 is sufficient. And we’ve been doing this long enough and can figure out what is a reasonable cost for these services.
I’m not concerned with milking as much money as you can from the vendors. It’s also a safety issue. You see on the news tree limbs falling and kill children.
I echo Dr. Erwin. That being said, we have a minimum amount of security we need and I just want to make sure we’re not getting the Rolls Royce of tree cutting. And why we do this, to answer Ms. Turner’s point, is to save money. Every dollar we don’t spend cutting down a tree, that’s a dollar we can give to a teacher. I’m trying to push as much money into the classroom.
If by reevaluating our procurement process we can improve it and save money, that’s more money we can move into the classroom. I just want to make sure we’re following best practices.
I’m all for teachers getting what they are due. But, at the end of the day, Mr. Williams has been employed to make sure we are getting the best cost for our dollar. Is that right?
Absolutely. Of the three responses, 1 was way too expensive so we only went with two.
I think it speaks to itself Mr. Jester. He just saved us a substantial amount of money.
What I would say is that we don’t know necessarily because we only had 4 responses. If we had 10 responses then we just might know. That’s the whole point of bidding these things so we can get the whole array of prices.
We have to look at costs as Mr. Jester said, but also quality. I would like to see the day where we can move beyond trying to find vendors and going after people for cutting trees and look at much more prominent things like sole vendor and there were no questions about it.
So we have to look at what we prioritize and what we see as important. I agree with Mr. Williams and you have to respect that. That’s why they’re here. On some occasions we do have to question. So I most certainly respect that Mr. Jester that we do question and make sure. But, you get what you pay for. So, if you want the cheap-o your probably going to get some people that just get a rope and pull down a brick-a-branch and you don’t know what’s going on.
So, if you want to get it the right way, you want to get the things they’re doing. So, we’re not trying to get things on the low-low and then it comes back no-no. That’s not what we want. We want to make sure it’s the way it’s supposed to be, so I think we need to make sure we go in the direction of that.