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Bidder upset by contract decision

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Bartholomew County rehired a Greensburg firm to do its property reassessment this year, generating a complaint from a competitor.

From three proposals, Bartholomew County Commissioners unanimously chose GnA Assessment Professionals on the recommendation of County Assessor Lew Wilson.

Before the vote, Troy Fryman, a sales representative for Tyler Technologies of Texas, said the Nexus Group of Zionsville submitted the lowest base bid of about $200,000. GnA’s base bid was $460,000, Fryman said.

Wilson explained that the base bid, which only covers annual trending of data used to make adjustments, is just one part of the contract. When other factors are considered, Wilson believes the Greensburg firm’s cost will be lowest.

The county contract calls for a company to perform 25 different tasks involving reviewing properties and handling appeals, as well as trending, Wilson said.

“Over the next two years, appeals will take more money than anything else that I have on the contract,” Wilson said.

Fryman claimed Tyler Technologies, based near Dallas, is large enough to provide more people to assist the county than GnA and still be less expensive.

“I’m curious at how these numbers add up,” Fryman said. “I do these across the state, and even for me this is hard to justify the difference in cost.”

Wilson said he spent more than a week considering variables in each bid. His analysis concluded the GnA bid would be about $12,000 less expensive than the second-lowest bid.

Advantages in the GnA proposal included a $300 daily rate for personnel. The daily rate from Tyler Technologies was $600, while the rate for Nexus personnel would run between $550 to $750 per day, depending on what services are provided, Wilson said.

GnA employees logged 350 days of work last year, Wilson said. Since all 92 Indiana counties will start reassessments July 1, Wilson expects even more days of work will be logged by contractor employees.

“That’s where the biggest difference is,” Wilson said. “I need people there, especially a project manager, for more days than either of the other two bidders even came close to providing.”

In Wilson’s opinion, GnA proved its value to Bartholomew County taxpayers last year.

“We got a tremendous amount more done, and even a better quality (than in 2012),” Wilson said.

The county has leeway in deciding on professional services contracts including judging experience and other factors, rather than simply accepting the lowest bid, county attorney Grant Tucker said.

The Indiana General Assembly began requiring open bidding after a contractor hired in 2005 to conduct

the Brown County reassessment didn’t complete it, and another firm had to be hired, Fryman said.

When coupled with complications from a 1998 Supreme Court ruling that forced Indiana to revamp its property tax assessment practices, the Nashville area found itself three years behind in the reassessment process in 2005.

Bartholomew County Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz seconded commissioner Rick Flohr’s motion to give the contract to the Greensburg firm, although he was somewhat reluctant.

“I’m only doing it because the assessor is elected to get the job done, and I’m not,” Kleinhenz said. “I’m comfortable seconding the motion if (Wilson) feels that’s how he can best serve the public.”

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