Even though state procurement laws exempt community from having to get competitive bids from towing and vehicle-storage companies, selectmen opted to ask for proposals in 2009. As a result, the town and selectmen were sued by losing bidder Michael Rubidoux, the owner of City line Towing.
Justice John S. McCain in recent times ruled in favor of the town and dismissed Mr. Robidoux's case in Worcester finer Court. The judge said the town hadn't acted in bad faith when it awarded a 3-year contract to Fuller Auto Body, and deemed City line an unresponsive bidder. Fuller had long had the town's towing business.
Courts will not interfere with an awarding authority result on who was the highest, responsible, responsive and qualified bidder unless the protester establishes that the awarding authority acted in bad faith, or in an arbitrary or unreasonable manner, the decision said.
The town said City line didn't meet 5 items on a 15-point checklist of criteria. The company did not meet the town's values for security and insurance, nor did it submit a list of before awarded government contracts, as the request called for.
The town is extremely pleased with the superior court's decision, Town Manager Julie A. Jacobson said. The judgment affirms that the town of Auburn and its Board of Selectmen acted properly and was the law with regards to the awarding of this towing contract under Chapter 30B, the procurement statute.
Mr. Robidoux could not be reach for comment. The phone number for his business was out of service, and his home phone line was busy throughout the day today. His lawsuit said City line was the lowest quick to respond bidder for the job.
Mr. Rubidoux sought injunctive relief and asked the court not to award the contract to Fuller. He asked the court to arrange the town and police to rotate towing jobs between Fuller and Rubidoux redo the entire bidding process and reimburse Mr. Robidoux legal and court fees.
Mr. Robidoux had worked for Pat's Towing Service in Worcester and started his own towing business in Auburn. He made investigation with town officials, and selectmen decided it was in the town's best attention to seek bids for a 3-year towing and storage pact. Then-Town Administrator Charles O'Connor opened the 2 sealed bids on Jan. 27, 2009, and forwards them to Police Chief Andrew J. Sluckis, who directed Sgt. Kenneth Charlton to review them.
The police sergeant inspected the bidders' property and tools. All 15 items were checked as approved for Fuller, and 10 of the 15 items were permitted for Robidoux, the court decision said. In its request for bids, the town said the awardees would provide passable security of vehicles at the place of storage, with a fenced and lighted area away from the public way to prevent needless traffic overcrowding from people wanting to view accident vehicles.
According to the decision, Mr. Robidoux's property was not fenced at the rear of the property. The rear was bounded by a small brook and woods. While it was not likely a car could have been driven out of the lot, it was accessible by foot, the town said.Also, City line did not submit certificates of insurance for the minimum levels of coverage — $750,000 in mutual single limit's bodily injury and property damage’$100,000 in garage keeper's liability; and $50,000 in cargo insurance.
The sergeant also found that one City line truck had inoperable lighting tools. Based on the chief's reference; selectmen voted 4-0 on Feb. 23, 2009, to award the contract to Fuller.
Ms. Jacobson said the Fuller contract expired last year, but the town extended it through Jan. 31. The town has also executed a new contract to move forward for the next 3 years with Fuller, she said.
The pact will have the same parameters, with the town to receive 20 percent of towing and storage revenue, up to $100 for storage; 20 percent of extra service charges; and $25 for all towed vehicle that remains at the body shop for repair. The town did not seek bids before selecting Fuller this time. There were 822 police tows for calendar year 2012, according to the chief.
Based on those numbers, it can be estimated the town would receive $24,000 a year from Fuller, Ms. Jacobson said. Fuller has been given that services to the town of Auburn for decades, and we are not only pleased with the service, but we believe that the service is reasonable, she said. She thanked lawyer Robert J. Hennigan Jr. for his handling of the case on behalf of the town.