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Fuel system costs jump

By Staff | Oct 22, 2011

City Council members will be asked to waive a formal bid process and buy more than $330,000 worth of software for the city’s fuel and fleet management systems during their workshop Monday.

City staff is asking council to spend $148,700 on “FASTER” software for the Fleet Department; staff is looking for an additional $132,577.76 to be paid to SCI Distribution for the fuel management software, with a recurring annual cost of $49,909.64.

The “FASTER” software also has a recurring cost of $17,150, but that figure is already built into the total price.

City finance director Victoria Bateman is scheduled to give the presentation to council.

City spokeswoman Connie Barron deferred comment until that presentation. Barron added that she did not know how many times current or past councils have been asked to waive a formal bid process.

She did say the “FASTER” software performs a separate function from the fuel management software and is designed to keep track of items such as “work orders, inventory, repairs, tracking, etc.”

It was previously reported that the upgrade SCI is performing would cost roughly $46,000.

The new price tag of more than $182,000 includes a software upgrade, greater security, conversion to a wireless system, engagement of an outside electrical engineering service to bring fueling sites up to code, new fuel rings and on going annual maintenance and support, according to city documentation.

These items are being presented to city council without the use of a request for proposal process, which alarms Council man Kevin McGrail.

McGrail said he would definitely have some questions for Bateman and City Manager Gary King, not only about the price tag, but also why council was not given any updates about the status of the fuel management system.

“If they’re ready to put a bid price out without soliciting bids they must have known this problem was ocurring,” McGrail said.

Costs have already spiraled out of control, as far as McGrail is concerned, as the price has jumped considerably from the previously reported $46,000 bill for the fuel management system.

“I want to see some accounting before we spend another cent with SCI, I don’t know how much we have invested,” McGrail added. “I don’t see this one moving forward very quickly.”

Council members Pete Brandt and Chris Chulakes-Leetz declined comment, saying they hadn’t had the opportunity to review Monday’s agenda.

Councilmember Marty McClain said the price tag for the city’s fuel management system had to also include the roughly $50,000 paid to Bill Towler as a special consultant who looked at the city’s fuel management practices; the $50,000 spent on auditing the fuel system by both the city and county; and an additional $8,000 that SCI charged the city to analyze its own software.

McClain said it was important to remember the audit turned up a roughly $32,000 difference between fuel in and fuel out between 2006 – 2010, the period studied by Towler as a special consultant.

“How can I justify spending this for $32,000, according to the audit?” McClain said. “We’re asking people to take pay cuts, so I’m going to need this explained to me. I need answers.

“I’m all for making sure the system works, but I want to do the right thing and put this out for bid,” McClain added.