San Diego County supervisors were warned Tuesday that a move designed to save the county $3,000 could end up costing a lot more.
The supervisors voted 4 to 1, with Leon Williams dissenting, to award a contract for a public information program on recycling to Shipyard Management Consultants Inc. despite the objections of the losing bidder, the San Diego Ecology Center.
The $45,978 contract calls for the company to help set up recycling programs in order to reduce the volume of trash brought to county landfills.
John Messinger, a spokesman for Shipyard Management Consultants Inc., said the company had no experience in the recycling field but planned to hire a qualified person to manage the program. The county staff reviewed the firm's bid and concluded that the company was qualified to take on the job.
But Municipal Judge Robert Coates, chairman of the board for the nonprofit Ecology Center, said the county was foolish to abandon the expertise the center has acquired through nine years of experience. The Ecology Center's bid was about $3,000 higher than the winning bid.
"I think what they did was terribly shortsighted and very unwise and will probably harm the county's efforts to keep the citizenry participating in this recycling program," Coates said. "We've taken great pains to set up something that will serve the county well."
Coates argued that the county may have to pay for more services, perhaps from the Ecology Center, if it finds that Shipyard Management Consultants can't do the job.
Supervisors Susan Golding and Brian Bilbray countered, however, that the board had no choice but to award the contract to the lowest qualified bidder. They said the county would evaluate the new company's performance and that the Ecology Center would have another chance to bid on the contract in a year.