Harrison questions Perry bids

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 30, 2004

Perry County Commissioner Brett Harrison often feels like the odd man out during commission meetings. He is often the only no vote in decisions made.

He was vocal Tuesday about what he thought was an improper procedure for accepting bids for the annual ambulance contract. Emergistat again won the bid, but there will be further negotiations on the contract.

“There are certain rules,” Harrison said. “The reason I didn’t vote on the ambulance service was nothing at all about Emergistat. I’ve taken Emergistat ambulances to residences in my rural area because they didn’t know how to get there.

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“…It’s not the service; it’s the procedure (for accepting bids). We have certain guidelines that we have to use for the open bid law.”

“When those bids were opened (at the April 13 meeting) the prices were not announced,” Harrison said. “It’s the first time since I’ve been a sitting commissioner that has happened. It just seems inappropriate.”

Commissioner Tim Sanderson, a member of the public safety committee that reviewed the ambulance bids, “knows twice as much as I do about ambulance service,” Harrison said, but he doesn’t want the public to get the perception that things are not being done properly.

It’s getting to the point where a few members of the Perry County Commission are making the decisions, he said. “In my opinion, that’s going to be the downfall of Perry County. We are ultimately, as a group, responsible for every transaction in Perry County. The way it is supposed to work, the bids are opened, made public and then go to the committee for their recommendation.”

Harrison had a problem with amendments being asked of the vendors after the bids were opened. He also felt there was some ambiguous language in the bids.

County commissioners have a handbook, Harrison said. “The very definition of a county commissioner is responsibility for the commission as a whole. No one individual commissioner has any more authority, any more appointed powers.”

Harrison said he doesn’t see the agenda for the commission meeting before they begin. However, “over all we have a good commission. Commissioner (Albert) Turner and I tend to butt heads….I’ve always been a team player but on the team in the right way. I’m not going to make any shady deal. I’m going to do everything to the best of my ability to make even and fair play.

“I voted for this landfill because I feel like this landfill is going to be productive for Perry County,” he said. “As far as I know on this prison project – I haven’t been informed of a lot of (detail) – I’m not going to be the one to vote against it.”

A county commissioner cannot make a decision on something he has no background on, Harrison said. “I try to make sound decisions based on information I’ve got.

“…People always have a negative (feeling) about politics. …I’m trying to create an atmosphere where people don’t have a shadow of a doubt. I’m a firm believer in accountability.

(In fact) the open meetings law is something in the past that has been violated,” Harrison said.

He also is puzzled why he is not appointed to commission committees.

“I’ve asked in open (commissioner’s) court and never got an answer,” he said. Harrison wanted to be added to the personnel committee because of his experience. He is the owner of Harrison Automotive in Marion. “I have 80 employees under me,” he said. “I was trying to make a contribution to the county commission through the committee.”