Denton might bid on contract

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Marshall County School Board member -- who'd been mowing lawns at county government buildings but was bumped last week from continuing under recent arrangements --- would be eligible to bid on the work contract again.

However, Curt Denton, the school board member representing District 8, isn't sure whether he will or not. Bids for the contract to mow the lawns at places like the Courthouse and the Hardison Annex on College Street are to be opened at 5:30 p.m. Thursday when the County Buildings Committee meets again.

Denton's eligibility to bid was confirmed last week during a Buildings Committee meeting, but he's to have workers compensation insurance if he submits a bid.

Denton and others argued last year that it was unfair to force a service vendor to pay for insurance that they didn't need if they didn't win the bid. Denton was allowed to bid without a policy. He obtained a binder to carry him through a period without a policy.

However, the binder expired in November and, even though grass isn't growing now since it's wintertime, the Buildings Committee concluded Denton didn't have insurance, so bids should be called again.

Denton's circumstances arose from the nature of the workers compensation insurance system.

"When you apply for workers comp insurance, your name goes in a pool," Denton explained; then turning to what happened when his application was reviewed by the randomly selected underwriter. "The company that drew my name saw that I was due an audit."

Financial records of businesses with workers compensation insurance are reviewed by auditors on a routine basis, he explained, saying, "It's a natural occurrence."

He'd had insurance in 2006, but didn't thereafter until last year when he bought a binder to resume coverage, Denton said Wednesday.

"I had workmen's compensation insurance," he said. "I was running on a binder policy and it expired in November and with the holidays the audit hadn't been completed."

That left the impression that he'd not been complying with what commissioners wanted; "But I did comply and the binder did expire. It was with a different company from the one that I had in 2006."

A directive for an audit of his financial records is probably just "sitting on someone's desk" waiting for action, Denton said. But now, he continued, "I'm having to rely on a company that has no play in the picture."

The company that drew him as a client is different from the one that insured his business before and so the recently dubbed firm must audit Denton -- a task that will cost it money before it starts to receive premium payments from him, Denton said.

"That happened when there was no work going on" because grass stopped growing, and Denton's firm wasn't on the county property mowing grass.

Denton was paid for grass mowing performed last year, he said.

Now that his services are suspended and bids have been called and will be opened next week, Denton was asked if he'd submit a bid.

"I probably won't," he said at first. "It's put a sour taste in my mouth on how it's all played out."

That's how he feels "at this point," Denton said, "but I could change my mind."

Denton expressed dismay on how the chain of events developed. The only county official who contacted him about the contract situation regarding the audit was Commissioner Wilford "Spider" Wentzel, "and he's not even on the committee," Denton said.
Nevertheless, Denton knew enough to go to last week's meeting of the Buildings Committee.

As for his prospective bid for the mowing work that would resume in the spring, Denton said County officials "have already sent me papers to bid on it."