Falgout, Fillingame face off over city fire truck purchase
By Cassandra Favre
Dec 6, 2013, 21:37
The purchase of the Bay St. Louis' Fire Department's prospective new aerial truck was once again a matter of debate at Tuesday's city council meeting.
Some councilmen are questioning the protocol followed to order the truck.
Councilman-at-Large Mike Favre and Ward Five Councilman Joey Boudin said on Tuesday that they are not against the fire truck, that the city needs it, but it was never approved by council to begin the purchasing process.
During budget workshops, the council approved allotting $60,000 of capital funds, $48,000 of that being rebate money from the state fire commission for a yearly aerial fire truck payment.
"We did a purchase order under the state contract," Fillingame said. "Which we do with police cars, you have to make a commitment so that they start building the truck.
"Ultimately, what you work towards is a finished price on the piece of equipment, you want that invoice when you come back to council for approval. We're not committing the insurance rebate, but knowing that that will be the revenue supplementing that."
Boudin said,"they are building the truck right now, you can see it on the Ferrara website, but we haven't approved the purchase or the financing."
Ward Six Councilman Lonnie Falgout told council that he does not think the state contract is being fulfilled.
Falgout produced documents from the company HGACBuy which said that prior to ordering a fire apparatus from a vendor, the purchase order must be sent.
Falgout also had a copy of city purchase order issued to Ferrara Fire Apparatus dated Oct. 28, for a new ladder truck in the amount of $534,000.
A second city purchase order dated Nov. 25 was also issued to Ferrara Fire Apparatus for a ladder truck and accessories in the amount of $579,947.
A contract between Ferrara Fire Apparatus and Department of Finance and Administration, Office of Purchasing and Travel for the State of Mississippi became effective on Nov. 1 of this year, Falgout said.
"We budgeted $60,000, not $547,000," Falgout said. "That's a purchase order price.
"The HGACBUY website states that the purchase order goes to them, and they in turn order the truck. The purchase order must have a state contract number on it and this doesn't."
"Those people that are buying that truck know the purchase process," Fillingame said. "They've done it a long time, before you got here, and they've done it very successfully and within the parameters of the law."
"As long as everything is legal," Boudin said. "We want to continue with this purchase, we all agree we need a ladder truck, we just need to check and make sure that it's being done right."
The council instructed city attorney Donald Rafferty to look into the protocol on ordering a fire apparatus.
HGACBuy is a nationwide, government procurement service.
"If a city wants to buy a fire truck in the state of Mississippi," Ron Williamson of HGACBuy said on Wednesday, "and you choose to use a state contract, then the city has to go through HGACBuy.
"Before a purchase order can be drawn up, a final quote from the vendor must be sent to the HGACBuy office for approval."
"Once we approve and send it back," Williamson said, "a purchase order, with the state contract number and ILC 08-2041 on it, can be issued based on the final quote."
Visit the website at www.hgacbuy.org/home/.
Billy Beard of the Bureau of Fleet Management, said his office doesn't receive confirmation of a fire truck order until later on in the process.
"There are steps a city needs to take when ordering a fire truck," Beard said, "First, the city determines the needs, next the fire chief will look at vendors and put specifications together.
"Then they send that information to the manufacturer, who gives a price. The city will then take that price and a purchase order and send it to HGACBuy.
"HGACBuy will verify if pricing is correct and will issue an approval to the manufacturer."
"The council approved the purchase of a ladder truck," Bay St. Louis Fire Chief Pam SanFillippo said. "I gave them specifications on a truck almost identical to the one we are getting.
"The last thing they have left to do is approve financing."
SanFillippo said she is not clear on why council is worried about the purchase order.
"Nobody is going to build a $600,000 truck without some kind of guarantee that we are going to buy it," SanFillippo said. "I think the vendor sends the final quote to HGACBuy.
"Ferrara sells trucks everyday on state contract, I think they know what they are doing."
SanFillippo said the closest she has come to a final price is $579,947.
"When we go out to buy equipment on state contract," City Clerk David Kolf said, "We have to issue a purchase order to show that we are government and are eligible to receive state contract pricing.
"We have been working to configure what the truck will have, there's been no purchase agreement, nothing to present to council.
"I will present financing options when I have them, but haven't looked into it because I don't have a final figure."
Kolf said he thinks that there is an actual truck and that this could be a quick sale because they already have a chassis, which is a frame.
"We're not doing anything improper," Kolf said. "We are following the same procedures we follow to purchase other city vehicles."
Phone calls to Ferrara Fire Apparatus were not returned by press time Friday.