A Farmingdale contractor is heading to the state’s highest court over the town’s rejection of his mowing and sewer maintenance bids.

Ellis Construction is appealing Justice William Stokes’ order upholding the decision of selectmen.

Stokes wrote, “The Select Board was not obligated to award the contracts to (Ellis) under circumstances where it knew the town had already been sued by (Ellis) for breach of contract in relation to its previous award of the sewer maintenance contract.”

There is no dispute that Ellis Construction, owned by Chris Ellis, submitted the lowest bids to the town of Farmingdale for the roadside mowing and sewer maintenance work in September 2016.

Stokes’ order was issued last month, and documents in the case at the Capital Judicial Center were forwarded to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday.

Ellis’ attorney, Walter McKee, said the appeal contends that “the superior court was incorrect in its ruling.”

The town’s attorney, Mary Denison, maintains the court’s ruling is correct.

“Maine Municipal Association advises every municipality when they’re doing bidding and purchasing to be sure to reserve the right to reject any and all bids,” she said Wednesday. “The town of Farmingdale followed that to the letter of the law, and the court upheld the town’s use of its discretion to reject Ellis’ bid based on the fact there was ongoing litigation initiated by this contractor against the town.”

The appeal to the state’s highest court takes some months to get scheduled.

Stokes had sent the case back to the Farmingdale Board of Selectmen in April, ordering them to specify why they rejected the bids from Ellis Construction on Sept. 7, 2016.

In response to Stokes’ remand, the board wrote that “it would be ‘very difficult’ to have an on-going contractual relationship with an adverse party” and that “the working environment with a party who was in active litigation with the town ‘would be … very hostile,’ not ‘productive,’ and ‘extremely uncomfortable.'”

Stokes rejected arguments by Ellis’ attorneys that the board abused its discretion, that it was obligated to follow a competitive bidding process and award the contracts to the lowest bidder and that the town lacked the discretion to reject its bids.

He also wrote that “the court is satisfied that the Select Board’s decision to reject the petitioner’s bids because of the on-going litigation with the town, was not an abuse of discretion.”

Stokes noted, “Farmingdale’s code of ordinances makes it unmistakably clear that ‘bids are offers made to the town to do the work described in the invitation to bid,’ and that the board ‘is not obligated to accept any bid, and may reject all bids.”

In a separate lawsuit also being handled at the Augusta court, Ellis Construction claims the town owes it $3,300, plus payment for labor and materials, that it would have received beginning in July 2015 when the sewer inspection and maintenance contract was not renewed for 2015-2016. That case remains pending.

The disputes come a few years after controversy erupted in Farmingdale about the town’s winter snowplowing contract with Ellis. In August 2014, the Farmingdale Board of Selectmen and Ellis Construction agreed to terminate their three-year plowing contract after only one year.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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