Now that West Vincent is fat and happy on borrowed money (remember the re-finance on the bond), they have almost a million dollars to spend. True to Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and Roadmaster Ken Miller's word, an advertisement for the Road Projects bid has been placed. You can't see it. You are not allowed to. The public at large can't see it. There is no trace of the announcement in a newspaper that I have been able to find. The advertisement is mysteriously not posted on the township website as previous ads have been.

Where is this hidden advertisement for perhaps a half a million dollars worth of road work, you may ask? It is listed in a place called Pennbid.net. What is Pennbid.net? Pennbid.net is now a legal way for municipalities to advertise contracts to contractors. The Pennsylvania Legislature recently changed the rules for advertising requirements for municipalities. Now public bid announcements are not required to be in complete print form, which is a tremendous cost to the governmental entity. Instead, now the full postings can be performed via the Internet.

The downside to this advertising (an upside to West Vincent Township) is that the average citizen, you and I, cannot view the bid package. You have to be registered to see it. To be registered, you need to be approved. The approval appears to require the “vendor” to be a contractor. This greatly restricts the chances of West Vincent Township residents ever seeing what the details of a bid are. The requirements of the cloaked bid may be structured in such a way that only certain companies would have the fulfillment ability. T
he public may have questions if they see the actual specifications so it is better that they don't know. In previous years the Township listed specific equipment for the equipment and labor contract bid that matched exactly what D&L Fleck (now DL Construction LLC) had in their inventory.  By the way, that contract is up for the 2012 bid  and is advertised on the township website and the Pottstown Mercury right now.

All of this could be resolved if West Vincent Township simply posted the same advertisement and the bid package on its OWN website so that the public could review what is proposed. But, when spending the kind of money West Vincent Roadmaster Ken Miller has at his fingertips, he certainly doesn't want anybody meddling with “his” money.

One last thing about PennBid.com. I thought at first there would be a windfall of savings, especially when it seems the Township has to advertise multiple times to correct clerical errors in the advertisements, costing thousands of dollars in re-advertising fees, but now I am not so sure. Pennbid.com charges on a percentage basis to the winning bid, similar to an auction. It is based on a percentage of the bid price. The bidding contractors have to incorporate that cost into the bid itself. The taxpayer still pays, it just doesn't come out of the Township checkbook, creating the illusion that the Township is reducing expenses. What happens if the Township scraps the bid due to an error and has to repost?

The most important issue to note about this new advertising system is this. The public cannot see it. West Vincent Township doesn't even advertise the bid on their website. The question is this: Are you, the taxpayer, comfortable with this process
and the lack of transparency?

To see my previous mailings please click on http://tinyurl.com/westvincentinfos  As usual, if you want to be on or off my list, or have some comments or suggestions, or know someone who would like to be on the list, please let me know.  Feel free to forward this email on to anyone you think might be interested.   Especially though, if you don't want to continue to receive my mails, please tell me, it will be done.  Just hit reply to this email or write to chestercountynews@gmail.com

Best wishes