Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Times Reports Lake County Turns to Bargain Hunting

From the Northwest Indiana Times:

It's open bidding season on some of the oldest and most lucrative service contracts in Lake County government.

The Lake County Board of Commissioners is shopping for new vendors to perform more than $38 million in services ranging from insurance for county government employees to medical and psychiatric care for county jail inmates.

While commissioners routinely seek competitive bids on engineering and construction road, bridge and floodwater-control projects, state law permits them to award other types of service contracts without shopping around, and they frequently rehire scores of vendors and consultants with little debate.

However, the recent passage of the county income tax emboldened some county officials, including Councilmen Dan Dernulc, R-Highland, and Eldon Strong, R-Crown Point, to insist all county contracts be put up for bid to avoid wasting public dollars.

Lake County Commissioner Mike Repay, D-Hammond, said commissioners joined the super-saver movement last month by insisting the county use competitive bidding to find the best price to lease or buy an estimated $40 million in E-911 hardware and infrastructure.

Repay said commissioners also have been quietly moving toward competitive bidding to find an administrator for the county's $26 million group insurance program in the hope of slowing the cost of health care claims.