Handling of county janitorial supplies irks sheriff
In the last three months, the county spent $35,000 on supplies from a company that has no contract with the county.
By STEPHEN SIFFand PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Although Trumbull County has awarded one contract for janitorial supplies, most are still purchased without formal bidding.
In March, W.J. Service Co. won a six-month, $45,000 contract to supply the 11 most-used janitorial supplies for the county jail and office buildings.
By comparison, the county spent $35,000 in the last three months on supplies from a company that has no formal contract and lost in the competitive bidding process to W.J.
Some of the supplies the county still buys from Lid Chem, of Girard, include laundry detergent, furniture polish and toilet bowl cleaner.
"I have no clue," said Sheriff Thomas Altiere. "It upsets me that I have no control."
Altiere said Tony Delmont, the county's maintenance department supervisor, is the one who orders the supplies for the jail.
Last year, Altiere was forced to return $1,400 in campaign donations from Lid Chem because county officials are not allowed to accept corporate donations.
Supply contracts have never been put out to bid in Trumbull County, according to Delmont.
He said the plan was to start by bidding out a few items, then increase the number after the system of competitive bidding has been proven.
State law, however, requires competitive bidding when goods worth more than $15,000 are to be purchased from a single vendor.
James Misocky, an assistant county prosecutor, said he advised county officials some time ago that they must seek competitive bids.
County commissioners voted Wednesday to put janitorial supplies up for bid a second time, after the first contract expires. Commissioner Michael O'Brien wants to amend the resolution to include supplies now purchased from Lid Chem.
"Let's take a look at it and put it out to bid," said Commissioner James Tsagaris.
Commissioner Joseph Angelo could not be reached.
Oversight of the county's procurement process is shared by a number of offices and officials.
The commissioners sign the checks -- thousands of them a year -- but do not necessarily monitor each expenditure, officials say.
Contracts awarded through competitive bidding appear on the commissioners' weekly agenda and are reviewed by the county prosecutor's office, but purchases made on an informal basis, without bidding, do not go through the meetings or over a prosecutor's desk, Misocky said.
In 2001, the commissioners created the position of purchasing director and hired Anthony J. Carson Jr., an appraiser with the county auditor's office, for the job. His duties include preparing and analyzing vendor contracts, reviewing purchase orders and preparing competitive bid specifications.
In the past year and a half, he has put out for competitive bid contracts for office supplies for all county departments -- trash removal and floor-mat cleanings, among others.
Carson did not seek competitive bids on food bought for the county jail and juvenile detention center until last week
He said he was not aware it had to be put out to bid.
The county spends more than $200,000 a year on food.
Commissioners passed a resolution last week directing Carson to seek competitive bids for the food.
Carson, 44, is a former Warren councilman and the owner of Warren Alternative Sentencing Program, a private jail for nonviolent offenders.
He also owns the building the county rents for Central District Court in Cortland.