Jacksonville, FL (January 8, 2019) – During the first City Council meeting of the new year, Councilman Becton voted against procurement bills 2018-791 and 2018-792 citing “this process is being performed backwards.”
Councilman Becton’s vote to deny these bills was not against the landscape projects themselves, but how the projects were being funded and approved by City Council prior to issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP).
“It would not surprise me or anyone else in this chamber if these RFPs come back basically the amount we just approved,” Councilman Becton explained. “A normal process of approving projects of this nature would be to bid them out and then select the best bid and then approved them,” added Councilman Becton. “If they come back higher, I guess we will see them back again to approve the higher amount”.
According to the bill summary of 2018-791, named “Mandarin Road Tree Planting”, if passed, the landscape project would provide funding for plantings that will supplement the existing tree canopy and provide shade to the trail/walkway in the City right-of-way, and would provide replacement for Live Oaks in two of the medians along Mandarin Road. This bill was originally valued at $83,022.50 but was arbitrarily doubled to $166,045 due to concerns that the city’s new planting requirements had driven up the cost and that no one would bid on the lower amount.
The second bill 2018-792, “Springfield Preservation Tree Planting”, if passed, would replace over 125 trees within Council District 7 in an area bound by 1st Street, Boulevard, 9th Street and Spearing Street. Many of these trees were removed after hurricane Irma and others were due to general decline within the city rights-of-way. This bill was originally valued at $139,436, but again, was arbitrarily doubled to $278,872 for the same concerns as before.
The funding for both bills would be appropriated from the Tree Mitigation and Related Trust Fund, Subfund – 15N (Charter) and Subfund – 15F (Ordinance Code) for tree planting projects.
During Tuesday night’s council meeting, Councilman Becton suggested to send an RFP first with the new specifications, since the current specifications were “more stringent”. He continued to add that once they receive a new price, then they should pass the bill.
Councilman Ferraro followed Councilman Becton’s suggestion with agreement and both voted against the bills. Despite Councilman Becton’s and Councilman Ferraro’s urging, the council ended up approving the amendments by a vote of 17-2.