Lebanon delays awarding mowing contract due to contract concerns

By Angela Simmons

LEBANON – Companies that bid on a mowing contract with the City of Lebanon will have to wait another week to find out any information. At a special council meeting on March 4, the council voted to delay any kind of vote until legal representatives could look over the contract after city attorneys deemed any contract typed by city administration to be “inappropriate.”

“I was asked to review a contract put together by the clerk, and I question whether it’s the responsibility for the clerk to put together contracts. I spoke to both John [Long] and Terry [Bruckert], and they said no, it’s a legal contract that should be put together by the city attorney, so I don’t think we should be voting on that tonight,” said Mayor Rich Wilken. 

The contract is to mow at College Hill Cemetery. At the February 25 city council meeting, Alderwoman Cheri Wright, the head of the city’s Cemetery Committee, opened sealed bids. Before doing so, she said   “Prior to opening them, I’d like to make a motion to accept the lowest bid, pending checks of their qualifications.” Alderman Al Gerdes pointed out that the city already had the responsibility of accepting the lowest responsible bid, meaning lowest cost that meets the full insurance and other qualifications. Attorney John Long said making the motion and taking a vote to accept the lowest responsible bid “couldn’t hurt.” The vote was unanimous.

The bids for contract were opened in order of receipt. Wilson’s Landscaping, who previously held the contract with the city, offered a two year contract for 2019 and 2020 at $975.00, with an option to add 2021 at $995. Precision Lawn and Tree offered a two year contract for 2019 and 2020 at $925, with a 2021 option at $945. Green’s Grass Guy bid $875 for 2019 and 2020, and kept the price the same for a third year option. The final bid was from Homescape Outdoor Services for $1,300 for 2019 and 2020 with no third year option. 

The bids were priced per cut of the cemetery property, and Wright said that there’s an average of 23 to 25 cuts per year from April 1 through November 30. According to the bid letter, each Monday, the contractor would be contacted by the “City Street Superintendent” Jody McNeese who would inform them whether or not there was a need to mow. The letter continued in listing the specifications of the job, including “Each mowing should include trimming of headstones, copings and markers. Each mowing will include removal of debris from headstones, copings and markers.” It also stated “Contractor will maintain liability and worker’s compensation insurance for duration of contract.” 

Alderwoman Wright was responsible for vetting the lowest responsible bidder, which would have been Green’s Grass Guy, run by Anthony Sutton and his girlfriend Danielle Green. Scott Wilson of Wilson Landscaping urged the city to figure out whether or not Green’s Grass Guy was sub-contracting his work and had the proper insurance. 

“I see these numbers coming in, and I deal with this all the time, and the question would be whether or not he’s subcontracting or doing the work himself,” Wilson said. 

Sutton and Green, also present, confirmed that Sutton and a part-time employee would do the work. A volunteer Caseyville firefighter with ten years of landscaping experience, he said this would be his company’s first municipal contract. 

At the March 4 special meeting, after an exchange where the contract and possible insurance concerns were brought up, Sutton asked for a copy of the contract before it would need to be signed so that his attorney could view the paperwork, and several aldermen also said they wanted to view a possible contract before the March 11 council meeting where an official vote would be expected. 

Along with this discussion, Alderman Rick Gale said he would like a presentation from lawyers from Bruckert, Gruenke & Long that outlines specifically what services are covered under their retainer, and which services are extra. 

“I don’t want John to be the one to do it, because his comment is that so-and-so from the office does that. I want whomever in their office handles this to be the one to explain. I don’t think we have a good understanding of exactly what’s covered,” Gale said. His request was supported by other council members. 

In Other News:

• The council gave approval to amending the minimum acreage under a planned unit development in SR-1, R-2 and MH-1 zoning districts from five acres to three acres. The Ladriere Building Company will be able to move forward with developing the subdivision Perryman and Woodland. Jeff LaDriere said he was thrilled to be able to “get to work,” and quipped “Proper planning is mightier than the shovel.”