Almost two months after prematurely ending the previous snowplowing contract, the Farmingdale Board of Selectmen voted Wednesday night to award a new contract.

The board accepted a bid from McGee Construction after negotiating the three-year bid down by $166,000 to a total of $645,998. That’s still about a third higher than the three-year, $487,500 contract the board and Farmingdale-based Ellis Construction had agreed to terminate Aug. 6 after only a year.

After bidding $811,965 for three years, Steve McGee, owner of the West Gardiner construction firm, offered at the board’s meeting Wednesday to come down to $209,000 for the first year with 3 percent increases in years two and three of the contract.

However, because residents approved only $200,000 for snowplowing this year and Selectman James Grant promised residents last week he wouldn’t vote for a contract above that, the board and McGee agreed to shift $9,000 from the first year of the contract to the second and third years.

The increases still will be subject to voter approval at the next two Town Meetings, held annually in June.

McGee said one reason for his high original bid — it was $236,000 higher than what his company bid a year ago — is that discussions at the pre-bid meeting with the board Sept. 2 made it sound as though the contractor would be responsible for having all the plow trucks required in the contract on the roads continuously during any type of storm. He said the board appeared to be taking judgment calls away from the contractor.

The board members told McGee they didn’t expect him to have plow trucks out if there wasn’t a need.

“We can definitely give you a good satisfactory job. Just let us use what equipment is necessary,” McGee said.

The decision to accept the bid from McGee came a week after residents told the board not to raise taxes as a result of the snowplowing contract. Some were angered by board actions that led to only one bid being opened.

The board and Ellis Construction agreed to end the previous contract after a year of steady complaints from several residents at board meetings.

The board revised the contract trying to clear up sections that led to some of the disagreements and put it out to bid again. The board made several changes to the contract at the mandatory pre-bid meeting, leading Ellis Construction, which didn’t attend the meeting, to object to the process.

The town attorney advised the board to let other interested contractors bid because it had made changes to the contract, but two members of the three-member board, Grant and Nancy Frost, voted not to open Ellis Construction’s bid, leaving only McGee Construction’s $811,965 bid.

David Sirois, board chairman, was the only board member to vote not to accept the reduced McGee Construction bid at Wednesday’s meeting, even though he said the board didn’t have any other choice.

“At this point, because where we’re at, I can’t see us doing any better,” he said at the meeting. “If we put it out to bid, it will almost certainly come out worse. And (McGee) already said he wouldn’t bid it, and I don’t know anyone else who will.”

Sirois said Thursday morning he voted against the contract as a protest against what happened to Ellis Construction and to show he was “not approving of the whole mess.”

“I felt that I needed to make a stand as far as the way the previous contractor was treated. I felt we had a good contract in hand. It was certainly a better value than what we’ve got now,” Sirois said. “I’ll concede that the old contract did have some vagueness and ambiguities, but it was a workable contract.”

He said the issue has shown that elections have consequences because Frost’s win in June put Sirois alone on the side of many disagreements with the current contract.

Doug Ebert, a former board chairman defeated by Frost, also blamed the town for being in the situation of having only one bid to open.

“After everything that’s happened in this town for the past two years, you should expect to only have one bidder on every contract,” Ebert told the board. “I would not expect any more people to bid. After everything that’s happened, you’re lucky you’ve got one bid.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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