$36,000 trash consulting contract is voided; State says town must seek bids.

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Byline: Brian Lee

SOUTHBRIDGE - Town Manager Christopher Clark has voided a $36,000 trash consulting contract after an official in the state inspector general's office told the manager to seek bids.

The state said Mr. Clark misinterpreted a section of the procurement law.

On Oct. 26, Councilman Laurent R. McDonald asked the state agency to investigate the contract.

Under state law, contracts of $25,000 or more require requests for bids; an exception is "a contract for the collection, transportation, receipt, processing or disposal of solid waste, recyclable or compostable materials."

Mr. Clark incorrectly used that exemption, and councilors recently ratified his hiring of Erik Jacobson of Dudley, doing business as Green Brown Consulting. Mr. Clark voided the contract late last week.

Mr. Jacobson's contract called for him to lead the town's enhanced enforcement of household waste policies, oversee municipal solid waste collection and processing, and collect recycling data. After a warning period, he was to "tag" trash policy violators and was to educate them on how to comply with the policy. He was on the job about a week.

The state said the contract awarded to Mr. Jacobson's business was not the same as solid waste services, meaning trash pickup, which landfill operator Casella Waste Systems does for the town.

Mr. Clark said he made a judgment call and tried to do his best to be within the scope of the law while adhering to another law that requires procurement officers to obtain a service at the most reasonable cost. The manager suggested this was a conflict in the law.

Mr. Jacobson, who has a solid-waste background and is certified for the work, was being paid $22 an hour; Mr. Clark said it's possible Mr. Jacobson could increase his bid alongside engineering companies whose bids are often in the neighborhood of $100 an hour.

The manager said part of the reason he hadn't advertised was he wanted to start the solid waste enforcement plan before snowfall, when...

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