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City picks Ellison

11/05/09 (Thu)

City picks Ellison
‘Shops local’ in garbage bid
By STU MERRY

The Garrison City Council talked a little trash Monday night, and who should provide residential garbage service to the community for the next three years.
And when all was said and done, Terry Ellison of Ellison Construction was chosen, even though he had submitted the highest of three bids. But the decision didn’t come without a bushel full of discussion.
A motion by Alderman Richard Lehnherr to go with the low bidder, Waste Management, died due to the lack of a second. A motion quickly followed that from council member Chad Rensch who spoke for the local bidder, Ellison Construction. Following a second by Steve Hasenwinkel, a lively discussion ensued.
In attendance was George Lauinger of Garrison who was shocked by the events.
“Why do you call for bids when you don’t accept the low bid,” he asked. “This is ridiculous. This is going to cost me money … just so you can reward a guy for buying a tire?”
Council members admitted that going with the highest bidder, even though Ellison is local, was a difficult one to make. Three council members, Gene Hummel, Chad Betz and Steve Hasenwinkel, shared that the majority of the feedback they received was to stay with the local service provider, even if it meant paying more.
“What we pay him (Ellison) does come back to town,” Hasenwinkel reasoned. But, he added, he polled city officials in other communities who said Waste Management does provide a good service.
Taking things further, Rensch reasoned, “We have to do what we need to do to keep it (a local business) going.”
Lauinger pointed out that Ellison has, in the past, said this would be his last three-year contract.
“He’s been saying that for the past six years,” Lauinger said. “You keep hiring him, he’ll never quit.”
Council members noted Ellison has, for the most part, done a good job of serving the city. But Lauinger countered that any extra expense is a burden to some residents.
Watching the verbal exchange was a representative of B&E Sanitation, Minot, the third bidder. She noted while the Ellison and Waste Management bids would increase annually, the B & E bid remained constant over the three years ($11 annually). But the council remained focused on staying local.
Hummel weighed in; saying input he received was split with most saying they would prefer staying with the local contractor.