City awards mobile command contract again

Published 10:22 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In its third try at awarding a contract to construct a mobile command vehicle for the city’s police department, Suffolk on Wednesday notified Matthews Specialty Vehicles its bid had been accepted.

The city expects to pay Matthews about $590,000 for the bus, which Police Chief Thomas Bennett believes will enhance his department’s capability to respond to hostage situations, natural disasters and other situations. The project is funded by a Port Security Grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The process has encountered several delays. Last year, Matthews filed a lawsuit after the city awarded the contract to Farber Specialty Vehicles. Matthews said Farber’s bid included several specifications that varied from requirements in the city’s bid documents.

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The lawsuit was dismissed after the city canceled the award and re-issued the invitation for bids.

Farber once again submitted a lower bid, and the city once again notified Farber of its intent to award the contract to the company.

But last week, Farber’s bid was declared non-responsive because of what the city called a “material misrepresentation.” The city said Farber had certified it was registered with the State Corporation Commission as of Jan. 9 when, in fact, it did not file for registration until Jan. 17. A national sales manager for Farber blamed the error on not knowing they needed to register and making a mistake in filling out the form.

“My clients are extremely pleased,” said Fred Taylor of Stallings and Bischoff, an attorney for Matthews Specialty Vehicles. “This is certainly the goal we have been attempting to reach for months now, through both the bid process and subsequent litigation. We were confident from the very beginning that Matthews’ bid was the most responsive to the city’s request, and we feel vindicated in seeing this intent to award issued.”