The Fairhope City Council renewed a disaster debris removal and disposal contract with a company owned by state Sen. Tripp Pittman.
At a regular meeting on Monday, councilors voted 3-0 to renew the contract it approved last June, when it awarded a low-bid $1.2 million contract to Pittman Tractor. The Montrose-based company has held the city’s contract for disaster debris removal since 2012, when it won with a low bid of $1,062,255. The contract must be rebid every three years but can be renewed twice during that time without a formal bidding process.
Just three councilors – Diana Brewer, Rich Mueller and Kevin Boone – were present for the meeting, while Mayor Tim Kant was not present because of the recent death of his mother. Brewer served as the council president for the meeting in the absence of current president Jack Burrell.
“This was just an extension of the contract we approved last year, so it did not have to be bid out this year,” Brewer said this week. “It was almost just a formality.”
In 2010, an ethics complaint was filed against Pittman alleging his company had no business bidding for a project to provide protectant boom around the Marriott Grand Hotel in Point Clear and beaches in Fairhope using BP oil spill funds, while he had been tasked by then Gov. Bob Riley to preside over emergency funds in the senate. The Alabama Ethics Commission closed that case in February 2011.
Last year, Pittman’s bid defeated Asplundh at $1,364,987, Crowder Gulf at $1,404,000, DRC Emergency Services at $1,686,960 and Phillips and Jordan at $1,728,000. At the time, Burrell cited a notification from the Alabama Ethics Commission that cleared the council of ethics violations in approving the bid. This week, Brewer said the council is confident the contract is legal.
“When we approved this contract the previous times we did our due diligence to make sure it was OK,” Brewer said. “When the complaint was filed against Sen. Pittman the Ethics Commission found there was no wrongdoing, so we are confident the contract is legal. This was just an extension of the contract that was already approved last year.”
The contract meets a requirement of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and must be in place before storms hit. The city would be responsible for about 10 percent of the contract in the event of a disaster, with the state and FEMA paying the bulk.
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