Pasquotank attempts ‘sole source’ purchase, yet again!

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Big spenders Dixon, Winslow vote against competitive bidding

PASQUOTANK COUNTY — At the commissioners’ finance committee meeting on Monday, solid waste director Mike Etheridge explained his need for a new Mack truck. He stated that he wanted to acquire this truck without competitive bidding from other Mack truck dealers in the area and he also attempted to make the case to purchase only a Mack truck instead of considering other manufacturers that make equipment that is competitively built.

Commissioner Frankie Meads made a motion that other manufacturers be given the opportunity to bid on this truck. Mr. Etheridge first tried to make the argument that the transmission in the Mack truck was superior. Then they tried to make the argument that service would be harder to obtain if we purchased the vehicle from a dealer other than the one that Mr. Etheridge was advocating. Both of these arguments were dismissed as irrelevant.

In fact, there are six Mack truck dealers within close proximity to Elizabeth City.


Commissioner Meads pointed out that if a vehicle is purchased from a dealer, anywhere in the United States, the dealer that is closest to the location of the truck is obligated to perform any service or make any repairs that are necessary. This is not unlike any other situation of the purchase of motorized vehicles. We have various people within Elizabeth City who buy cars in Virginia and then go to their local dealer for service.

Meads offered a motion that a purchase of this size should be competitively bid, and that motion was seconded by Commissioner Betty Parker. When the vote was called for, a majority of commissioners — Meads, Parker, Griffin and Sterritt — all voted for competitive bidding, thus approving the process.

Commissioner Perry was not in attendance due to illness. Big spenders Dixon and Winslow voted against competitive bidding for this truck that was going to cost over $100,000. Why any commissioner would vote against competitive bidding for the purchase of anything is a complete mystery since the sole objective of competitive bidding is to achieve the lowest possible price?

Our readers will recall that this same discussion took place approximately a year ago when the solid waste director wanted to purchase another Mack truck without competitive bidding. Why is the solid waste director so intent to purchase from this one dealer at the risk of spending more money without competitive bidding? There are several possible explanations, but none of them make any sense if the intent is to protect the interest of the taxpayer. The only explanation that makes any sense is that the solid waste director and his supporters on the Board of County Commissioners have more interest in placating the director than in serving the interests of the taxpaying citizens of Pasquotank County.