Mineola OKs ’emergency’ purchases for aging equipment

Noah Manskar
Mineola Village Hall is seen in 2016. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

The Village of Mineola declared two “emergencies” this month to replace failing equipment that is at least two decades old.

The village board voted last Wednesday to buy two new air conditioning units for the Mineola Fire Department headquarters after discovering the week before that they were “beyond repair,” village Clerk Joseph Scalero said.

The village is paying $21,150 for the units, purchased from Mineola-based Dynaire Services Corp., a company with which it has a contract.

The village also plans to start installing a new digital, fiber-optic phone system this summer, purchased from Pennsylvania-based Evolve IP, following two major phone failures within six weeks, Scalero said. Initial costs are estimated at $5,000, and the village’s monthly phone bill will drop to about $2,000 from around $5,000, he said.

The purchases were approved as “emergency” contracts, a provision used “very infrequently” in Mineola that allows the village to procure contracts without a competitive bidding process, which can take at least a month, Scalero said.

“It really comes down to, do you have enough time to go to bid for something?” he said.

Both the air conditioner and the phone system are at least as old as Mineola’s Village Hall, which opened in 1997, Scalero said.

The village discovered two weeks ago that the air conditioning system in the firehouse was “beyond repair” in an area where firefighters congregate, Scalero said. Competitive bidding would mean it could not be fixed until at least mid-summer, he said.

The village offices lost nearly three full days of phone service due to outages, one of which was attributable to a larger Verizon outage, Scalero said.

The current phone system may have lasted long enough to get competitive bids, Scalero said, but the village did not want to risk an even bigger breakdown.

“We don’t want to be the last person in horse and buggy when everybody else has gone to cars,” Scalero said.

Government contracting guidelines from the state’s Office of General Services say municipalities can declare an emergency in “an urgent and unexpected situation” in which “health and public safety or the conservation of public resources is at risk.”

Municipalities should try to get at least three verbal quotes for emergency contracts, the guidelines say.

Scalero said he reviewed eight proposals before choosing Evolve IP to install the new phone lines. Dynaire was the only firm considered for the air conditioner, but the village has an existing contract with the company that was publicly bid, Scalero said.

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