Northumberland County officials note objections to incomplete story; small purchase policy is explained

by Megan Schiffres 

HEATHSVILLE—Northumberland County officials this week noted their objections to a story appearing in the Rappahannock Record on November 21 regarding the county’s emergency medical services garage project.

Both county administrator Luttrell Tadlock and county attorney Matson C. Terry II noted the story did not include critical information and therefore the headline was misleading.

During the board of supervisors’ November meeting, members Ronnie Jett, Richard Haynie and Joe Self voted in favor of two motions related to moving forward with the garage’s construction, including one to accept an estimated $38,476 proposal from NTC Contractors to pour the concrete foundation of the building, and another motion to accept a $4,087 proposal from Turner’s Service Co. to construct the plumbing for the garage.

The previous article failed to mention that the board also considered a $42,400 proposal from Peninsula Concrete & Steel Inc. and a $42,400 estimate from Sterrett Inc. to construct the EMS garage building before selecting the lowest bid, from NTC Contractors. 

Board members Jim Long and Thomas Tomlin voted against both motions to move forward with the construction of the garage building, arguing that under the Virginia Public Procurement Act the county should advertise for bids and hold public hearings on each stage of the buildings’ construction process, because the total cost of constructing the garage building will exceed the minimum amount required by law before a public body must hold public hearings and advertise for competitive bids. 

Terry said the previous article also should have noted that the board’s efforts to build the EMS garage do not exceed the $100,000 minimum necessary to publicly advertise for competitive bids because the board chose to pursue contracts for each stage of the building process individually and not as part of one overall project. 

“Because the county is acting as the general contractor, each contract can be considered separately. As long as each individual contract is not over $100,000, the item being procured does not have to be bid and can be considered under our small purchase policy,” said Tadlock. 

In addition to the $42,563 that the board in November authorized for the foundation and plumbing, the board previously accepted a $61,700 contract with CHA Pole Barns to construct the facility. This portion of the construction process was put out for bid earlier in the year, according to Tadlock.

During that special meeting the board also approved a $12,760 contract with Glenn Lester Co. to level the ground where the garage will be constructed and to remove an old shed on the property. Board members Jett, Haynie and Self voted in favor of these contracts, while Tomlin and Long voted against the motion.

The objectionable headline indicated the “supervisors accept EMS garage construction proposal without public hearings or competitive bids,” which is not the case. Three bids were considered and a public hearing was not required under the county’s small purchase policy.