Oktibbeha County is getting new motor graders for maintenance and construction on county roads.
The board of supervisors voted unanimously to purchase three new motor graders from Trax Plus, a construction equipment supplier from Lowndes County, for $202,000 each, for a total of $606,000, to replace current ones that no longer work. After a reverse auction Friday, a process where sellers bid for the prices at which they are willing to sell their products, through Southern Procurement LLC, the supervisors decided Trax Plus’ motor graders would be the most cost-efficient and valuable of those that placed bids.
Two other Lowndes County companies presented bids — Stribling Equipment, LLC bid $265,000 and Thompson Machinery bid $239,547.82. Oktibbeha County Road Manager Hal Baggett analyzed the different prices and products, and while Trax Plus’ equipment is not well-known, he said he believes it is still the best machinery.
“I’ve taken all three that bid and looked at all of the specs and compared everything,” Baggett said. “… There’s nothing that different in the submissions that justifies me recommending anything but the lowest bid.”
Even though the county administered the reverse auction, in which both Trax Plus and Stribling Equipment participated, Thompson Machinery decided to go a different route.
Thompson Machinery Salesmanager Tom Simmons approached the board June 4 with a bid of $282,321.58, the lowest they could offer at the time. Instead of participating in the reverse auction, he delivered a concealed bid to County Administrator Delois Farmer half an hour before the auction began with the new price of $239,547.82.
Simmons said his company did not participate in the reverse auction because they did not want to pay the three percent of the final bid to Southern Procurement if chosen, a fee required by the winning company in order for the county to do business with Southern Procurement.
While the original advertisement for bids previous County Administrator Emily Garrard released on June 25 and July 2 stated companies are required to participate in this bidding event in order to be considered for contract, Board Attorney Rob Roberson said the State Auditor’s office confirmed to him that as long as concealed bids are delivered before electronic bidding starts, then they can be considered as well.
“Through state statute, if you have a mixed batch, in other words, you have the computer bidding and you have the concealed bids … according to (the auditor’s office), it is perfectly OK as long as everything is turned in by the proper time and whatever we require them to do,” Roberson said.
Once the county issues a purchase order, Trax Plus Sales Construction Coordinator Daniel Bounds said the machines will be delivered within 10 days.