Members of the Harford County Board of Estimates approved spending nearly $900,000 to purchase 32 replacement vehicles for the Harford County Sheriff's Office during their meeting Thursday morning.
The board voted 6-0 on each of three separate items regarding vehicle purchases. Member Jay Van Deusen was absent Thursday.
The board members approved one purchase of 25 2014 Chevrolet Caprice "marked patrol units" for $695,725 from Criswell Chevrolet Inc. of Gaithersburg, a second purchase of two 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV PPV 4x2 vehicles, also from Criswell, for $65,000 and a third $115,000 purchase of five 2014 Chevrolet Impalas with a 9c3 undercover package from Hertrich of Milford, Del.
In June, board members approved the purchase of half a million dollars for 19 replacement vehicles, including marked patrol cars, SUVs and Impalas; the latter vehicles also had undercover kits.
"This is part of an ongoing replacement program with the sheriff's department," Warren Patrick, fleet manager with the county's Department of Procurement, told the board.
"We are not replacing quite as many units as we should, or would like to, but it's as far as our funds will take us," he added.
Several special features of the 9c3 undercover package, designed to ensure the car remains nondescript, include a coaxial cable for the radio antenna concealed in the space between the rear of the interior dome lamp to the trunk, along the side of the car, according to a 2013 Chevrolet Municipal Vehicles Technical Manual.
The car's dome and courtesy lamps do not come on when the doors open, and the vehicle comes with an "in-car router" for wireless Internet access.
The signature Autonet Mobile TRU Technology "allows users in an around the vehicles to access the Internet using any Wi-Fi enabled device," according to the manual.
The board voted 4-2 in favor of two open-end contracts, not to exceed $1 million annually, covering engineering and design services for water and wastewater infrastructure and environmental projects.
An open-end contract is not awarded to one contractor, but to a group of contractors who would then offer proposals for individual projects when needed, and the contract would be awarded to the low bidder, explained Steve Schulz, an engineer with the Department of Public Works' Division of Water and Sewer.
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Once the overall group of contractors is approved by the board of estimates; contracts for individual projects would not have to be approved by the board, he said.
The five contractors selected for the $1 million water and wastewater engineering contract are George Miles & Buhr of Baltimore, Morris & Ritchie Associates of Abingdon, Hazen and Sawyer P.C. of Baltimore, Whitman Requardt & Associates of Baltimore and Gannett Fleming Inc. of Baltimore.
Schulz said the firms are a mix of large and small contractors and would take on projects of various sizes.
Warren Hamilton, the other citizen member of the board, took issue with what he says is the potential for larger firms to get a majority of the work.
Hamilton and County Council President Billy Boniface voted against the contract.
The board then unanimously approved the open-end environmental engineering services contract with 10 firms, also worth $1 million, after Hamilton offered an amendment for the contract to cover one year only, eliminating four one-year renewal options as had been proposed by procurement and public works.
Craig, who chaired the meeting and voted for both contacts, said later that local governments have used open-end contracts "for decades," explaining they allow the county to select contractors for projects that come up quickly, such as emergency repairs.