Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Officials recommend delaying road inspection project

BROOKSVILLE — The controversy engulfing the Department of Public Works has prompted county officials to recommend delaying a long-standing county project to inspect road conditions.

A bid proposal for the inspection project is being questioned after the St. Petersburg Times revealed that the county employee who wrote the solicitation was working for KMS & Associates at the same time. KMS is the private company that submitted the lowest bid last week to conduct the annual road assessment and inventory.

Bill Busch, formerly the county's pavement management coordinator, even appeared at the bid opening Aug. 20 wearing a KMS polo shirt.

Jim Gantt, the county's purchasing director, suggested that the county reject all three bids received and reissue the project's specifications independent of the Public Works Department.

"We know that Busch had a part in drafting the (specifications) for the bid before he left DPW,'' Gantt wrote in a memo to County Administrator David Hamilton. "In lieu of these facts and the controversy in play now, I cannot see awarding this contract to KMS or to one of the other bidders.''

County Attorney Garth Coller concurred.

"There is an appearance of impropriety, even though there may not be one," Coller said in an interview Thursday.

In an internal memorandum sent Monday to public works director Charles Mixson, Gantt asked Mixson for input.

"In light of the circumstances involving Mr. Busch's involvement in this bid, we will strongly recommend that the solicitation be rebid with the specifications drafted as purely performance in nature rather than exclusive to the system currently in use,'' Gantt wrote. "We would appreciate your concurrence in this matter.''

As the memo indicated, Gantt is interested in exploring alternatives to the MicroPAVER computer system the county currently uses to analyze the road condition data. Busch helped bring that KMS-endorsed program to Hernando County. "What we're saying is to put it out … and leave it open to other companies to use more than MicroPAVER," Gantt said.

Mixson said Thursday he knew that Gantt had concerns about the bid. "We do, too,'' he said.

He said he was willing to talk about the proposal but wouldn't commit to endorsing Gantt's recommendation.

Time is not a factor, he said. A delay in the inventory would not have a huge impact on the county's road program because it is just a data collection process. Even if the county had the data today, other ongoing projects are taking priority, Mixson said.

As for putting together a bid that would allow use of some other software than MicroPAVER, Mixson said he would want to have a serious discussion about that. MicroPAVER is "the industry standard'' and what Hernando County has used for years, he said.

"It's used all over the country,'' Mixson added. "That would be changing our whole program."

Busch's dual loyalties are the subject of an ongoing criminal fraud investigation. The State Attorney's Office is reviewing the case but has not made a decision about whether to file charges.

John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114. Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Officials recommend delaying road inspection project 08/28/08 [Last modified: Sunday, August 31, 2008 9:21am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa

    Blogs

    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.