The town of Farmingdale hasn’t opened bids yet for its newly revised snowplowing contract, and it’s already facing questions about whether the process was fair to all potential bidders.

The Board of Selectmen and the most recent contractor, Ellis Construction, agreed last month to end the three-year winter road maintenance contract awarded to the Farmingdale contractor a year ago. The contract had faced constant criticism from a small group of residents, and the board chairman, David Sirois, said the selectmen decided it was in the best interest of the town to start over.

The previous contract include some vague sections that led to disagreements about what the contractor could bill the town for. The new contract drafted last month sought to clear up the confusion to prevent some of the controversies that frequently have plagued the plowing contract process over the years.

But changes to the contact at a pre-bid meeting not attended by Ellis Construction raised concerns from the contractor about the fairness of the process.

The board expects to open bids for the new three-year plowing contract at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Town Office.

Ellis Construction, McGee Construction and E.C. Barry and Son Construction took out bid packets for the new contract, but only the latter two attended the mandatory pre-bid meeting Tuesday.

At the meeting, the contractors and the board agreed to several changes in the contract, including reducing the size of two of the five required snowplow trucks and adding wording to the subcontractor section acknowledging that the contractor may lease vehicles or operators even though the Board of Selectmen doesn’t encourage the use of subcontractors. Subcontracting is when the contractor pays other businesses or individuals to do parts of the work for the contractor.

The original contract and last year’s contract said the contractor will not subcontract or transfer any portion of the work without prior written approval from the board.

Although Ellis Construction didn’t attend the pre-bid meeting, the town attorney advised the board to allow the contractor to bid because the contract was materially changed at the meeting, Sirois said.

Chris Ellis, an owner of Ellis Construction, said his company originally didn’t plan to bid on the contract because he felt it was too restrictive, and the company already had committed too many of its resources to other plowing jobs, including that of the town of Randolph. He said he would have gone to the meeting if he had known that changes, specifically that the selectmen were allowing subcontracting, would be made to the contract.

Ellis said he “absolutely” would be bidding on the contract. He said he would bid so low, “it’s going to be Christmas all over the town. I can’t wait. It’s going to be a gift for them.”

Even though the attorney advised Sirois to allow Ellis Construction to bid, it’s not clear yet whether the other board members will accept a bid from the company.

Selectman James Grant said Friday morning he wanted to check with the town attorney himself before deciding whether to accept a potential bid from Ellis Construction. The board member elected in June, Nancy Frost, said she also would wait for Grant to speak with the attorney before making a decision.

The Board of Selectmen ran into similar problems when it issued the three-year winter road maintenance contract last year. Some residents said the contact wasn’t fair to E.C. Barry and Son Construction because it required a sand and salt pile designated for the town of Farmingdale. At the time, E.C. Barry and Son Construction had the contract to plow Randolph’s roads, a contract Ellis Construction won this year.

The board removed the part of the contract requiring the material to be used exclusively for Farmingdale and reduced the amount of sand and salt required at the start of the season.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig