Nothing ‘special’ about Arkwright actions

Who is watching out for taxpayers in the Town of Arkwright? Obviously NOT the town supervisor and several of the Town Board members!

A “special meeting” of the Arkwright Town Board took place Monday, Sept. 23 with Superintendent Fred Norton presiding, Roger Cardot, Larry Ball, Dennis Stevens, Town Board members. Myself, an Arkwright land owner and taxpayer, a town resident, Chris Cannon, the road superintendent, Steve Mead and Fred Burgess, besides a representative from Horizon Wind Energy, were in attendance. I thought the meeting was regarding something really important. However, in reality, it was to vote to accept a bid for a new heating system for the Arkwright Town Hall to replace the old heating system, thought to be malfunctioning.

I want to make all Arkwright taxpayers and voters aware of what transpired at this meeting. I feel this was an irresponsible expenditure which was passed and I feel Mr. Norton and Mr. Ball allowed a bid to be awarded in an unethical manner. The board had charged Mr. Ball with the task of acquiring bids to replace the furnace during the Sept. 9 meeting. He claimed three bids came in from three vendors from the Jamestown area and Mr. Norton claims the board is under legal obligation to accept the lowest bid. I say “claims” as the participants in attendance of the meeting were provided with a copy of only one bid, which we were told was the lowest.

Roger Cardot appeared to be the only board member concerned with unnecessary spending of taxpayers’ money and the manner in which the bid was awarded. He pointed out that the expenditure of a new heating system was not necessary at this time: the heating system which was THOUGHT to be broken was actually not switched on, and that is why it failed to work properly last month. Also, if an addition is made to the Town Hall, this new heating system would not have the capacity to heat the addition. He also question why local vendors were not invited to bid on this project. He also made a point that at the LAST board meeting, it was determined this matter would be discussed at the October board meeting.

Mr. Cardot made a motion to end the unnecessary “Special Meeting,” to table the acceptance of the bid, to allow local firms to bid on it, and to allow for further thought on this entire matter. Not surprisingly, it was voted down, and Supervisor Norton took the lead to ensure a motion was made and passed to accept the bid to purchase an unnecessary furnace.

I had questions that were not answered to my satisfaction. The two bids which were rejected, we were told, came from individuals who physically came to the Arkwright Town Hall and examined the project. The company who was awarded the bid did NOT come to Arkwright from Jamestown to examine the building and its heating needs. WHAT specifications were provided to the company who was awarded the bid? NONE. So HOW did the company with the lowest bid KNOW what to bid ON? Something seems unethical here.

My other question: Why were local plumbers/companies not invited to bid on this project? Mr. Ball named several local plumbing companies he claimed he contacted and stated they “didn’t get back to (him)” or said they were “not interested.” Mr. Ball, you probably did not realize I would contact the local companies you claimed to have spoken with. One stated the last time you contacted them was for a personal matter “over a year ago.” One stated you contacted them on Thursday, Sept. 12 and invited them to come to the Town Hall and view the project on Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 2 p.m., to which they replied that they were unable to make it at that time due to such short notice. I asked that company if Mr. Ball suggested they turn in a bid anyway or if he offered any additional information which would allow them to submit a bid (as apparently the party with the lowest bid had been allowed to do) and they replied they were not provided with any additional information, nor was there a suggestion that they submit a bid without attending the “walk through.”

The third local party stated he was eager to submit a bid, however no date was provided as to when the bid was due, and was disappointed that he would not be given the opportunity to submit a bid for this project, and was surprised the bid had already been awarded.

Town of Arkwright taxpayers and voters, do you think the manner in which this “bid” process took place was ethical? It appears to me the rules were different for each party. It appears the sole purpose of this “special” meeting called by Supervisor Norton was to award the job for replacement of a furnace (which is not really broken) to a company from Jamestown, who was contacted by Mr. Ball, but who NEVER saw the Town Hall, and never had any specifications! Now I have more questions: What was the hurry, Supervisor Norton and Mr. Ball? What are you trying to hide from the taxpayers that this matter could not wait until October? Why does it appear that the company awarded the bid was given preference over local companies?

I would suggest that the Arkwright taxpayers and voters pay close attention! The next “special meeting” called by Supervisor Norton and Mr. Ball might find you spending more than what you thought you would expect on the “Town Hall Building Project.”

Audrey J. Buck is a land owner in Arkwright.