BURTON- The Burton City Council went into a heated discussion with Mayor Duane Haskins at the April meeting over the recent bid process as it relates to the remodeling of City hall.
That recent bid process is what council members are calling a violation of the city charter.
It all started when Councilwoman Tina Conley asked Vice President Tom Martinbianco if he received answers to his questions regarding the remodeling process itself.
Martinbianco replied to Councilwoman Conley that he had received nothing specific per his request.
The month previous, Councilman Martinbianco requested from Mayor Haskins information of the bid process and full story of the remodel.
“We are trying to figure out if the entire project upstairs was put under one contract”, said Martinbianco.
He went on to say that the city council never had the opportunity to vote on a bid. He also asked if it was one bid or if the bid was spread out into multiple bids.
“I don’t know if that was the case or not. I am sure the bids were segregated on the square footage of what exactly they were rehabilitating”, said Martinbianco.
Martinbianco added: “If you are going to put out a bid, and maybe it was the same company, it needs to come before the council if it exceeds a certain dollar amount.”
Council President Steven Heffner agreed with Martinbianco in the fact that all bids over a certain amount should be turned over to the council, per the city charter.
Martinbianco then questioned Mayor Haskins publicly on the details of the contract and if the bid was divided into multiple bids so it did not have to go in front of council. Martinbianco then turned it over to Mayor Haskins publicly to answer the questions.
Mayor Haskins said that the bid was divided up into different sections, adding it was a continuation of insurance money.
Haskins then said that it wasn’t prohibited the way they did it under the charter.
“In the interest of transparency, I ask that next time this be brought to the council first”, said Martinbianco.
Steven Heffner, Council President, then took the floor and said he would like to see the full cost of the project, where it was bid out, who did and did not win the bid, or if it was even put out for bid.
The entire project itself cost over 10,000, but because it was divided into multiple sections, the Mayor did not allow council to take part in the bidding process.
“It doesn’t work that way, Mayor”, said Heffner.
Heffner went on to ask Mayor Haskins if he broke the charter.
“You most certainly broke the charter, what does section 11.1 say?”, said Heffner.
Heffner said that it used to be 5,000 for the bid limit and since it has been moved up to 10,000 a bunch of shenanigans have been going on.
Mayor Haskins denied the claims saying it is not shenanigans.
“When you take the same contract and divide it up into different departments that’s BS”, said Heffner.
Heffner then went on to say that the administration and council each have their purpose and requested from the Mayor to allow the council to do their purpose.
Heffner then asked Mayor Haskins when he could expect to see the breakdown of the bids, the Mayor responded by the next meeting. Heffner suggested that they enter a recess to allow the Mayor time to present the bids-–Mayor Haskins said he did not have it.
“Once again you are sideswiping the council”, Heffner said.
Mayor Haskins then blamed the questions from the council on a conspiracy theory in which Heffner called the Mayor on the carpet for the secrecy going on in City Hall.
It is unclear when Mayor Haskins will release the information on the bids or if the council will seek an investigation into the Mayor for a possible violation of the charter.
Mayor Haskins is up for re-election this year with a primary in August and a general election in November.
All information in this article is a matter of public record and can be viewed by watching the meeting:
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