Contract awarded again

Published 10:29 pm Friday, January 13, 2012

This mobile command vehicle from the Newport News Police Department is similar to the one Suffolk is trying to get. This week, it awarded a bid for the vehicle for the second time.

After being sued for allegedly awarding a contract improperly, the city of Suffolk has again awarded the contract for a mobile command vehicle to the same company that got the contract in the first place.

The city notified Farber Specialty Vehicles on Thursday of its intent to award the contract at the cost of $579,000 — $10,000 less than Farber’s bid in the last cycle.

The lawsuit involved a mobile command vehicle the Suffolk Police Department planned to purchase with a federal Port Security Grant of more than $600,000.

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The bus, according to a presentation to City Council by Police Chief Thomas Bennett earlier this year, would help the department improve its response to natural disasters, hostage situations and other incidents.

A losing bidder in the first round, Matthews Specialty Vehicles, Inc., sued the city late last year, pointing out what it said were numerous discrepancies between the specifications in the request for bids and the documents submitted by Farber.

A Suffolk Circuit Court judge granted an injunction that prevented the city from proceeding with the purchase until the trial was concluded.

In December, the city canceled its contract with Farber and said it would re-issue the invitation for bids, so the lawsuit was dismissed.

Attorney Fred Taylor of Stallings and Bischoff said at the time that Matthews intended to submit another bid. But Farber underbid Matthews again.

“My clients and I are carefully reviewing the city’s decision,” Taylor said.

He filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the bid documents from Farber, as well as any correspondence between Farber and city officials.