The Wayne Township Fire Department is defending its selection of a Michigan company in a $225,696 bid for a new fire truck, even though a Tipton company bid $35,000 less.
Wayne Township Fire Chief Larry Alcorn told 6News' Kara Kenney that the Michigan company, Spencer Fire, uses a specific type of aluminum listed in their specifications, while the other bidder, Renewed Performance, didn't.
Some taxpayers and board members aren't sure the aluminum choice is worth $35,000. Wayne Township also considered companies based in Wisconsin and Kentucky for the project.
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce said government entities that use taxpayer money should give special consideration to hiring Hoosier companies because it helps local workers and pumps money into the state's economy.
Managers at Renewed Performance, which employs 18 people, said they could have used the work. They scheduled a meeting with Alcorn, who told them the bid didn't meet specs.
"It kind of upsets me. I think all of our jobs should be staying close to our homes right now. We need them in our area," said Durenda Mackey, whose family lives in Tipton. "These are jobs for our people."
"There's a lot of Indiana workers that need jobs, and I think this hurts Indiana workers," said Andy Harris, a candidate for Wayne Township Trustee. "$35,000, I think, could be used in a lot of different ways in public safety."
Alcorn and Courtney Rice, a department spokesman, said the department wanted to use a type of aluminum called extruded, but RPI used a different kind.
Fire officials maintain that the extruded aluminum is stronger and more durable, but 6News called a number of associations and companies. None of them could say with certainty which type of aluminum was stronger, safer, heavier, or better.
"IC 5-22-7-8 provides that a contract must be awarded to the 'lowest responsible and responsive bid.' A 'responsible' bid is a bid submitted by an entity capable of responsibly performing the contract. A 'responsive' bid is a bid that meets the specifications provided in the offer," Alcorn said in an e-mail to 6News. "The RPI bid did not meet the specifications of the offer and was therefore rejected as non-responsive. The Spencer Fire bid was the lowest responsive and responsible bid. The specifications required extruded aluminum body construction, and the RPI bid did not meet that specification."
Alcorn declined to be interviewed on camera, saying that he had answered questions in the e-mail.
"By state law, we don't have to take an exception to our bid," Rice said, adding that the extruded aluminum is stronger and will last the 30 years the department is hoping for.
Rice said the Wayne Township Fire Department does not consider a company's location but does consider the price and whether it meets the specifications listed in the bid.
The issue is expected to come up at a Wayne Township board meeting Thursday evening.
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