The town of Cicero was within its rights to extend Onsite Development’s brush removal contract last year instead of selecting the lowest bid from Last Chance Recycling, the Onondaga County Supreme Court found.
The court has dismissed an Article 78 petition filed by Ian Hunter, owner of Last Chance Recycling. Hunter filed the petition against the town of Cicero in March, disputing the town’s decisions to reject all bids for brush removal and renew Onsite Development’s contract in December 2016.
In her decision dated Sept. 27, Justice Deborah Karalunas cited numerous cases in which courts sided with municipalities that rejected bids.
“The laws governing competitive bidding are intended for the benefit of the taxpayers, not corporate bidders, so the law should be ‘construed and administered with the sole reference to the public interest,’” Karalunas wrote. “For this reason, courts have consistently held that rejection of all bids with an expectation of obtaining lower bids upon rebidding is reasonable and rational. … Similarly, rejecting all bids in favor of a contract that more fully protects the town and its taxpayers by being more specific is reasonable and rational.”
Karalunas said the town’s “bid proposal specifically stated the town board ‘reserved the right to reject any or all bids,’” a right supported by New York State General Municipal Law Article 5-A, Section 103.
While that section states that “all contracts for public work involving an expenditure of more than $35,000 and all purchase contracts involving an expenditure of more than $20,000, shall be awarded … to the lowest responsible bidder,” the law also says contracts “may be awarded on the basis of best value.” State Finance Law says “best value” may take into account “quality, cost and efficiency” as well as small businesses, women-owned or minority owned businesses.
Town Councilor Jon Karp, an attorney, said he is “pleased that the town was vindicated,” adding that Karalunas’s decision showed “good legal insight.”
“We had a basis to protect the taxpayers of the town of Cicero, and we did the right things in renewing with our current vendor,” Karp told the Star-Review.
To view Karalunas’s full decision and other documents regarding this case, visit nycourts.gov. Click on “e-Filing” and navigate to “Court of Claims” under “Login.” Select “Search as a guest” and enter 2017EF1141 as the case number.
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.