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Article updated: 12/6/2012 5:16 PM

Buffalo Grove to renegotiate tree-cutting bids

By Steve Zalusky

The Buffalo Grove village board discovered this week that the business of taking down the town's trees that are imperiled by emerald ash borer infestation can present hidden pitfalls.

The board was about to award a $361,400 contract to Central Forestree LLC of Hoffman Estates for tree removal for 2013.

But Michael J. Kelly, representing Clean Cut Tree Service of Lake Villa, objected, saying that his firm initially had the low bid before the village changed its method of calculating the unit costs of the trees.

The board eventually decided to renegotiate with Clean Cut and Central Forestree.

As village President Jeffrey Braiman explained after the meeting, the village gave an estimate of the trees to be taken down in the form of a bell curve that showed an even distribution of various sizes of trees. But when the village figured out the actual number of trees to be removed, the pattern no longer fit the bell curve, and the proportions were no longer as evenly distributed.

"Therefore, when we calculated that per unit price, it made the difference," Braiman said.

Clean Cut, which was the initial low bidder, came out on the short end when it came to calculating the total cost when differently priced trees were added up.

"When we applied the actual numbers later, we had a lot more of the smaller trees," said Village Manager Dane Bragg. "So what happened was that Central Forestree had the lowest pricing on the smaller diameter trees. Normally that wouldn't affect a bid. But in this case it did," since Central Forestree was charging less for the smaller diameter trees.

One of the factors affecting the bid process was the fact that Buffalo Grove has had to do quite a bit of updating of the tree inventory.

"When it comes to asphalt, you know all those quantities in pretty fine detail, because they're all engineered. When it comes to the tree inventory we didn't have all of the dimensions of all the trees in the system until after the bids were (in). We were kind of roughing it, if you will," Bragg said.

During this week's meeting, Kelly complained that "now after the bid has been done, some different, unknown numbers at the time of the bid have been applied," Kelly said, adding, "You're going to disinterest people in working hard to try to create a low bid.

"It's big bold print that says this will be used for comparison of the bids. It doesn't tell us this will be used with some other numbers that we'll insert," Kelly said.

In recommending the renegotiation, Trustee Jeffrey Berman said, "This is somewhat of an unusual situation, because you have these multiple price points and really the ability to move numbers around in a way that appears, certainly to this gentleman (Kelly), to be inequitable."

Berman said, "Literally a small shift in the numbers and distribution across the range of the trees to be addressed had a material impact on the outcome of the bidding."

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