Commentary: No-bid contracts on buses and fueling facility raise concerns

Local, state and the federal governments are required by the City Charter and state and federal laws to solicit multiple bids for contracts exceeding a specific dollar amount.

Recently the city of Shelton authorized the mayor to award a $5.5 dollar contract for the purchase of new school buses without a bidding process. The reason given was a time constraint.

The city needed the buses before the beginning of the 2013-14 school year. That makes sense, but one must question why the hurry?

Why not sign a one- or two-year contract extension of the existing contract and do it right? Get multiple bids so that the citizens would know that we are getting the best deal.

Executive session

Now we read that the city is obligated to build a propane filling station to service the buses. It also will service the recycling trucks.

This time the discussion was not held in public but behind closed doors in executive session of the Board of Aldermen.

Once again the City Charter is being circumvented. Legal, but is it right?

Normally, when the city is planning to build a building or an addition, an architect is selected, designs and drawings are developed, and builders are asked to bid on the project.

It appears that in the case of the propane filling station that isn’t going to happen. Again, the city is in such a rush to build the facility that the normal bid and building process is being dumped.

So we will have a facility designed by? And built by? And to what specifications?

Safety issues

Maybe our city fire marshal will set the criteria for the safety of the facility? With perhaps thousands of gallons of propane stored next to the new animal shelter, we can all feel safe.

Given the operations, who will write a safety program to comply with the state and federal OSHA process and safety regulations? Does the facility require a terrorist safety plan under Homeland Security requirements?

What about training for the facility personnel regarding a spill or leak?

Will the Fire Department have the correct equipment to handle a major fire or could we see a repeat of what happened in the Texas fertilizer explosion when volunteer firefighters died because of the lack of proper information and training?

Must meet codes

I am all for using alternative fuels and saving city tax dollars but we need to know that the facility will be designed to meet state building and fire codes, that those inspecting the facility are qualified, and that safety measures are in place to protect the workers and the public.

Given the speed at which this is moving forward, one can only worry that something important will be missed.

David Gioiello is chairman of the Shelton Democratic Town Committee.