City Leans Toward Water Meter Contract $100M Higher Than Competing Bid
Updated: Thursday, October 10 2013, 10:25 AM EDT
It has been four months since the Baltimore board of estimates approved a 42% hike in the water rate. Public officials plan to use the money to pay a private contractor to supply 400,000 smart meters to households in the city and county.
But the contract to replace water meters has generated a flood of questions as the city leans toward not the lowest bidder for the contract, but a competitor whose bid is $100 million more expensive, as first reported by the Baltimore Brew. Dynis, based in Columbia, bid roughly $184 million while Itron Incorporated, out of Washington State, submitted a bid for roughly $84 million.
The CEO of Dynis is a generous contributor to the Baltimore mayor. At City Hall on Wednesday morning Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake avoided answering any questions about the deal. When asked if the contribution played a role, Rawlings-Blake deferred the question to her finance director.
Councilman Carl Stokes told FOX45 he didn't know about the deal but now that he does, he too has questions. "If there are two or three bidders and one is $100 million more there is something very wrong with that," the councilman said. "Its public dollars and the public should be able to see what the process is, clearly and cleanly.
Though Itron's bid is the lowest, city finance director Harry Black says technical scoring carries far more weight. But it's a process handled by members of a technical review panel behind closed doors.
The matter is expected to be voted on by the members of the board of estimates, which the mayor oversees, within the next 2 to 4 weeks.