Company claims city avoids bidding process

One local company says the city frequently uses a professional services clause during the procurement process.

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- More examples of clerical errors have surfaced when it comes to Columbia City Council agenda items and the lowest bidding process for city projects.

But one company claims the city avoids the bidding process all too often.

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The council's August 4 agenda lists approved projects. The agenda clearly states the projects were awarded to the lowest bidder.

But after a WACH Fox News investigation, City Manager Steve Gantt has confirmed Monday that's not true for at least three items.

Gantt says at least three no-bid contracts were mislabeled as going to the lowest bidder.

He described the mistakes as a clerical error.

Last week, Gantt defended the city's contracting practices, citing the city manager's authority to bypass the bidding process in many cases.

We recently told you about the city's contract with P.J. Noble and Associates.

The firm will consult for the city on its North Main Streetscaping Project.

That item initially appeared as the lowest bidder, but Gantt told us that was another clerical error and the P.J. Noble contract fell under a professional services exemption.

One local company says the city frequently uses the professional services clause during the procurement process.

The business, that would rather remain anonymous, says they've missed out on valuable engineering and sewer projects because many of those projects are never made available for bids.

Click here to read the entire August 4 agenda. Leave a comment below and tell us what you think.