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August 21, 2013

Best Value May Be Best Deal


Southampton Town has OK'd awarding contracts for goods and services based on "best value."

That means the town will be allowed to consider maintenance costs, durability and quality, according to the resolution passed last week.

Goods and services procured and awarded on the basis of "best value" are those that the town board determines optimize quality, cost and efficiency, among responsive and responsible bidders/offerers.

The resolution for the new legislation states: "The determination shall be based on an objective analysis of clearly described and documented criteria as they apply to the rating of bids or offers. The criteria may include, but shall not be limited to, any or all of the following: cost of maintenance; proximity to the end user if distance or response time is a significant term; durability; availability of replacement parts or maintenance contractors; longer product life; product performance criteria; and quality of craftsmanship."

According to the resolution, the "best value" option may be used, for example, if it is more cost efficient over time to award the good or service to other than the lowest responsible bidder/offerer if factors such as lower cost of maintenance, durability, higher quality and longer product life can be documented.

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said the new legislation would give the town a lot more flexibility in the effort to obtain the best deal for the long-term.

The new law also shows Southampton Town following suit with the likes of New York City and Suffolk County, who have also passed similar laws in the past, according to Deputy Town Attorney Carl Benincasa.

"This protects us from just lower bidders coming in, purposefully bidding low, knowing their costs would escalate," said Throne-Holst. "It's very easy to give a lowball bid, by a vendor, knowing you'll add on costs."

The new law was passed by a 4-1 vote, with Councilwoman Bridget Fleming less than convinced of the effort's merit.

"I'm skeptical," she said. "It adds wiggle room to town spending. Anything that introduces that level of subjectivity is playing with fire."

According to Southampton Comptroller Len Marchese, all town books are open and subject to audits. He said more likely than not a state auditor would look at the town's procurement policy under "best value" to make sure the awards are objective.

Also discussed last week:

• Benincasa was on hand again to speak with the town board about the annexation of town property into Southampton Village.

• Marchese, along with Director of Municipal Works, Christine Fetten, discussed emergency equipment expenditures within Southampton Town.

Emily@indyeastend.com

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