Tension over debris removal contract hits Fairhope council

By Cliff McCollum
Posted 8/2/17

More tension mounted between Fairhope Mayor Karin Wilson and City Council President Jack Burrell during the July 24 council meeting after a dispute over the city’s conditional disaster debris …

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Tension over debris removal contract hits Fairhope council

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More tension mounted between Fairhope Mayor Karin Wilson and City Council President Jack Burrell during the July 24 council meeting after a dispute over the city’s conditional disaster debris removal and disposal contract.

The contract had previously been held by Pittman Tractor, a local company owned by current State Senator and U.S. Senate candidate Trip Pittman, since 2012. Pittman’s contract with the city contained the ability to maintain a three-year extension, and while one year was left within that extension period, Wilson chose to have the city rebid the contract.

Pittman told The Courier he was not contacted by the city as he had been in previous years to extend the contract and he decided he would not rebid.

During the council meeting, Burrell raised the issue that rebidding the contract, which would be awarded to D&J Enterprises Inc. of Auburn, would cost the city slightly less than $1.8 million - $115,000 more than an extension of Pittman’s contract could have cost the city.

“I am not happy we were not told that we had one year left on the current contract,” Burrell said. “What really bothers me is that the extension that we had was $115,000 less than what we just awarded and it bothers me this was not brought to the council’s attention.”

Wilson defended her decision by saying she had the authority to make a change with the contract.

“I’ve talked to Trip and he chose not to bid, but he didn’t send a letter to negotiate the extension either,” Wilson explained. “Regardless, if I’m going to ask for something to be rebid, because I want fresh eyes and new opportunity for all because I’m a new mayor, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Wilson and Burrell then began arguing over one another, with Wilson saying Burrell’s comments were “out of line.”

Wilson: There’s a lot more that goes into this. I spent a lot of unnecessary time doing it because it came in so late.

Burrell: You did spend some unnecessary time on it, that’s for certain.

In the end, the council voted unanimously to award the new contract to D&J Enterprises.