EDGAR CO. (ECWd) -
I don't know where to start. On one hand I would like to think the County Board and Clerk are truly doing their best to fix things, but on the other hand actions speak louder than words. In true Edgar County form, two steps forward, three steps back.
There were three companies that submitted bids in hopes of securing the contract with the county to provide Advanced Life Support Ambulance Service to citizens in the Special Service Area District. ECSSAA, who is the current contract holder, Rescue 1 Paramedic Services out of Chrisman, and Care Ambulance out of Terre Haute.
Not sure why the county went to the trouble of asking for bids considering the current contract holder already has a contract in place that does not expire until May 31st of 2019.
You see, the current contract that the Edgar County Special Service Area Ambulance is very specific. It states that either the ECSSAA or county board is required to provide 30 days "written" notice of any intent to renegotiate the agreement. If no 30 day written notice is given prior to the expiration of the term, then the agreement "shall" automatically renew for a new five (5) year term. (Click here for copy of agreement with the specific language on this matter under paragraph 1)
The meeting that was held today was yet another illegal meeting of the County Board. Today's illegal meeting was a special meeting which has specific requirements by statute. One in particular is the requirement to publish the notice of the meeting in the local newspaper. This did not happen and therefore, under the county code, the public was not provided proper notice. This is nothing new and they can't claim they didn't know because this very issue has been raised several times, and by all indications they are taking the position they're going to do what they want the law be damned.
Although no contract was awarded today, two of the thee bids were in fact opened and read to the public. The third bid did not need to be open because that bid was never sealed! Although most people understand public bidding, you would think at least the public body that placed the request for bids would have stated that they must be sealed and turned in by a certain date. Yes, they had a deadline, but no reference of them needing to be sealed. Any attempt to award a bid when one of the bids was already open taints the process and defeats the whole purpose of going out for bids in the first place. The responsibility for that publication lies at the feet of the County Board Members. (Click here for Bid Specifications published)
In a quick review of the bids entered, it appears neither Rescue 1 or Care Ambulance meet the qualifications so the whole point is mute. A requirement to maintain and own or lease its headquarters/ambulance bay within 2.5 miles of the Edgar County Courthouse in Paris is a key component and it appears that Rescue 1 has no facility owned or leased that meets that requirement based on the language they placed in there bid and only agree to diligently work to locate one.
"Rescue 1 will work diligently to locate a building 2.5 mile radius of the Edgar County courthouse before the contract start date, if awarded the bid. We will maintain our Chrisman location as our corporate office and maintenance facility."
Both Rescue 1 and Care Ambulance also failed to provide a copy of all their licenses for their vehicles, which was a specific requirement in the bid specifications. "All vehicles shall be licensed by IDPH and a copy of the licenses shall be provided." The Edgar County Special Services Ambulance was the only bidder that met this requirement.
Care Ambulance, based on our information to date, also fails to meet the requirement of having been a licensed paramedic business in the last year in the State of Illinois. Having only been licensed since the fall of 2013 in Illinois it would appear one of the very first requirements has not been met.
It became pretty clear today that our public officials are still struggling to understand the most basic rules as they apply to a simple special meeting, and that struggle clearly carries over into other matters effecting the taxpayers of this county.
- All future bids on any project must be sealed bids to be accepted!
- All special meetings are required to be published in the local paper!
- Contract language matters!
By all indications, no matter what way you want to skin this cat, the current ambulance provider, ECSSAA is on course to be the county provider for another 5 years. Either based on the language in their current contract, or by the fact they were the only bidder that meets the bid specifications outlined.
Congratulation to Eric and Nicole Shaugnessy for what looks like will be another 5 years of providing great service to the citizens of Edgar County.
(Copies of all the bid Packages can be downloaded by clicking on the one you want to download from the three below.)