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Smithsburg council calls for more formality, precision and transparency in awarding contracts

October 01, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

SMITHSBURG -- Reviewing a partial collection of contract records Tuesday that included handwritten memos and scratched-out figures, Smithsburg Town Council members called for more formality, precision and transparency in the way the town awards contracts for services.

"We sort of have, right now, a mishmash of things," said Councilman Jerome Martin, who argued the town should use a standard form for all contracts.

Smithsburg Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers, whose husband, Homer Myers, co-owns a company that has received $8,772 this year for mowing, tree removal and other jobs, attributed the informality to small-town growing pains and a high level of trust between town officials and contractors.

"I agree that there is a better way of doing it," Myers said. "But we need to do it without accusing or pointing fingers at anything that's happened in the past, because that's all been done as the town is growing."

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Town Attorney Charles F. Wagaman Jr. said he reviewed the town's current contracts and received satisfactory answers to all his questions.

"I'm not saying everything is dot-the-Is, cross-the-Ts perfect, but I don't see any liabilities on the town," he said.

Wagaman said he would make recommendations for provisions to include in the new, standardized contract form, such as a requirement that contractors keep records of employees' names and Social Security numbers or work permits.

Council members suggested the town be more proactive in periodically reviewing those contracts that are not required to be bid out because they are less than $10,000. Some of those contracts have remained with the same company for more than five years.

"We need, as a council, to be aware of what we're getting for our buck, and if there's anything out there that might be cheaper," Councilman Donnie Souders Jr. said.

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