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Changes Planned For County Fuel Bids

By Staff | May 27, 2010

When the Palo Alto County Engineer’s Office solicits bids for the county’s fuel supply for the upcoming year, there will be a few changes in store for potential bidders, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors learned during its weekly meeting Tuesday.

County Engineer Joel Fantz briefed the supervisors of some changes to the bidding procedure for the coming fiscal year, with the biggest changes being a switch to all number two Diesel fuel, and awarding the complete bid for all fuel locations to one supplier.

“With the improvements in additives and the changes to fuels with the low sulfur blends that are out there, using all number one diesel in the winter isn’t that cost effective anymore,” Fantz began. “The low-sulfur fuel blends seem to have less lubricating properties to them, and that is a bit of a concern. With the additives that are coming out, number two fuel seems to work just as well in the cold weather, and it provides a little better lubricating properties than the straight number one fuel does.”

However, Fantz did not that the fuel contract would contain a provision to address obtaining number one fuel if conditions warrant such a move.

“Also, we would like to award the contract to just one provider, instead of splitting if off and having suppliers just cherry pick the locations they want,” Fantz added.

“I guess I personally don’t like that idea, but that’s just my opinion,” commented Supervisor Ed Noonan. “I tried the additives in my tractors and went back to number one fuel in the winter. And, as far as I’m concerned, I’d think that a smaller supplier might not want to do the whole county. I think we could be driving bidders away.”

“We’re just trying to save some taxpayer dollars with these ideas,” Fantz answered. “We’re not trying to discriminate against any bidder.”

 “What about the school districts that get fuel from us and the Diesel fuel?” asked Supervisor Ron Graettinger.

“We will be notifying them of what we are doing, and it would be their choice whether to continue using fuel from our system or making other arrangements,” Fantz answered.

“I hate to see the bigger suppliers getting bigger and pushing the little bidders out of business,” Supervisor Keith Wirtz commented.

“The thought is to eliminate that cherry picking of locations by the bidders,” Fantz replied, “And, by going with one bid, you should be able to expect a better price overall for the fuel.”

In other road related items, the supervisors approved a pair of underground construction permits for Mediacom to install fiber optic cable in Sections two and 14 of Great Oak Township, and also approved a permit for River Valley Telecommunications Cooperative to install underground telephone cable in Section 18 of Vernon Township.

The board also approved an amendment to the Engineer’s Department of Transportation Budget, which covered transfers in the DOT Budget areas of $30,000 for equipment costs, $30,000 for fuel costs, $30,000 for building utilities and $10,000 for signs due to the Christmas snowstorms and subsequent cleanup.

In other business, the Supervisors learned that the county’s contract for mental health service costs with Seasons Center of Spencer would actually decline next year, by some $4,000 to $63,000, according to information presented by Mental Health Director Maureen Sandberg. “I was pleased to see that the cost was less for next year. That’s always a good thing.”

Several routine budget amendments were considered to cover grant monies received during the year. Additionally, the budget area for autopsies was also amended to reflect the increase in number of autopsies conducted during the fiscal year. The amendments received unanimous approval of the board. The supervisors also set 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 22, in the boardroom, as the date and time for a completion hearing on FEMA Repair work to Drainage Districts 80 and 175.