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West Point Fire Department – FOIA triggers OMA compliance

Hancock Co. (ECWd) –

West Point Fire Fire Department is in a small rural community In Hancock County with a population of 178 people according to the last census. We received several requests for assistance after a bid opening resulted in the Board of Trustees refusing to accept the only bid received for a Fire Truck.

Listen to the voicemail re: not accepting the bid:

We emailed an FOIA request for some basic information on May 10, 2019, using the email addresses listed on the contact information found on the Illinois Comptroller web site. Two weeks go by and no response.  May 24, 2019, I sent a more detailed FOIA request by certified mail.   Several weeks later I received a phone call letting me know they were working on the response.

For those not familiar with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a public body has 5 business days to respond to an FOIA request and they may invoke another 5 days extension if certain justifications are applicable.  Needless to say, the West Point Fire Department did not comply with their mandated timeline for starters.

What we did receive in the mail was partial compliance for the requested info, but what was telling was the Open Meetings Act (OMA) Training Certificates.  The certificates for Trustee Tammy Dighton was dated June 27, 2019, and Supervisor Roberta Bruenger was dated July 1, 2019.  Those dates indicate the OMA training was done after we requested the certificates.  This is one of those cases were a simple FOIA request appears to have triggered compliance with the Open Meetings Act.

What was missing from our requested records were the actual bids received.  We have been told they refused to accept the one bid they received for a fire truck because they said it was too low.  The actual bid publication made no reference to a minimum bid so they may have some problems heading their way if they refuse to honor the bid received.

The minutes reflect they are now seeking two new trustees.  As we continue to get to the bottom of the bidding issues, we hope whomever the new trustees are will take things more serious than those before them.

We will update when we have more details on the bids recieved.

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Categories: feature, West Point

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