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Approval for generator purchase still needed

A 40-year-old generator needs replaced at the Harrison County Justice Center but concerns have come up that the price for it is the highest bid the county received.

Near the start of the year, the generator lost a cylinder, according to Jon Stepro, the head of the Harrison County Facilities Dept. For the past two months, Stepro has looked for prices to get it replaced. For the time being, the county has had a rental unit at the justice center while a replacement unit is found.

Stepro said for $119,084.54, Eckart LLC can provide a generator, Southern Indiana Electric can run the electrical work and C&R Construction can do the concrete work.

During the Harrison County Council meeting earlier this month, council president Donnie Hussung asked why he and the council were being asked to go with that price when it was the highest quote the county received.

Stepro said other companies didn’t provide quotes or prices on a kind of generator the county needs.

Hussung said the county received bids and they were opened, but one bid wasn’t received until after the bids were open.

“The quote turned into a competitive bid, but there was no advertising for a competitive bid and there was no deadline,” Hussung said.

Hussung said he thought the whole thing wasn’t handled properly and the county had another quote that was for approximately $84,000.

“The whole thing wasn’t done right,” Hussung said.

The council’s legal counsel, Mike Summers, was asked what the state required for seal bids. He responded he wasn’t sure, but a few minutes later Councilman Kyle Nix found the information.

“Sealed bids must be done except for purchases of less than $50,000,” Nix said.

Summers recommended the council send the request back to the Harrison County Board of Commissioners and start the whole process over.

During Monday evening’s commissioners’ meeting, via conference call, Commissioner Charlie Crawford asked Stepro if he had any more conversations with companies about pricing and he said no.

Crawford asked if Stepro gave specifications to companies regarding what the county needed and if Eckart was the only company to provide the information the county needed. Stepro said that was correct.

“Then that should be the end of the issue,” Crawford said. “You should take it back to them the next time, at their next meeting.”

Crawford and the two other commissioners supported a motion to have Stepro return to the council with the same $119,084.54, when the council meets again at 7 p.m. on Monday.

In other county business, the highway department has begun receiving sealed bids for road resurfacing projects for the county’s three commissioner districts. Bids are still being accepted and will be opened at the commissioners’ meeting on Monday, May 4, at 8:30 a.m.

The commissioners extended the county’s ordinance regarding the COVID-19 outbreak for another 30 days, with a stipulation that it could end earlier if needed. The new end date is Monday, May 25.

The commissioners also learned Monday night the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County will contribute $100,000 to the Harrison County Small Business COVID-19 Loan Relief Program. The council, with a 4-3 vote, approved $100,000 with up to another $200,000 of county funds when a matching contribution is made to help businesses.

Last week, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced it had to suspend its loan program and payment protection program due to running out of funds.