By: Diane Benjamin
Think back to April when the Normal Town Council approved Horton Group for Insurance Broker Services. One thing stood out as suspicious. The Town issued an RFP and received 5 responses with detailed proposals. The meeting documentation was pages of glowing staff praise for Horton but the bids from the other four were not included.
Normally all bids received are listed to show the Town is being fiscally responsible by choosing the lowest bid. This time the Town did not list them.
See the meetings docs pertaining to Horton here, Horton will be paid $39,600:
Received by FOIA: Two local vendors also submitted bids, Van Gundy and Clemons and Associates. Both bids are for $36,000.
On PDF page 9 Clemens has a lengthy list of current customers like Unit 5, Heartland, and AFNI.
Van Gundy is located in Normal and includes a much smaller list of current customers – PDF page 30.
Horton submitted this proposal:
2 other bids were received that were far higher.
All three bids are comprehensive and appear to all offer the same services.
“Buy local” appears to be immaterial if Town staff likes the company they have now. I wonder if Clemens and Van Gundy are members of the Chamber of Commerce? Does the Chamber expect local government to NOT buy local? Did the Chamber express any displeasure with the Town for buying out-of-town?
The Chamber endorsed Kevin McCarthy and Scott Preston in the last election, both voted for Horton. The Chamber didn’t support Chris Koos, I don’t know why.
A difference of $3,600 could have been justified by the amount of staff time required to change to a different vendor. The Town didn’t even attempt to say that. Of course all but one Council member didn’t have a problem with the documentation. The “professional staff” is always right and can’t be questioned. (Right Kathleen?)
Maybe Clemens or Van Gundy can decipher the truth. I wonder what the REAL cost difference is.