MAYVILLE Chautauqua County is in need of some timber sale services for the next five years.
But who should provide those services for timber located within county parks and reforestation properties is currently being debated.
During a Public Facilities Committee meeting in Mayville, legislators passed a resolution naming the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District as its timber sales group.
The resolution, which will head to the legislature floor next week for approval, was the result of a recent request for proposal.
George Spanos, public facilities director, said the Soil and Water Conservation District came in as the lowest bidder.
"We put an RFP out," he said. "We are supposed to select the one that is most beneficial to the county. That's all we ever do."
If approved by the legislature, the conservation district would charge the county 9.5 percent of the revenue earned by the timber sale activities. The only other bid received, from a private group, was for 10 percent of timber sales revenue.
Committee Chairman David Himelein, R-Findley Lake, said he approved the potential partnership, which he said clearly favors the county.
"My opinion is that if the Soil and Water Conservation is the low bidder on this project ... it's kind of a win-win for the county," Himelein said. "The Soil and Water (Conservation) makes a little money off from it and the county makes from the sale itself."
Tom Erlandson, D-Frewsburg, meanwhile, was critical of giving the business to a government agency over a private business - noting the half-percent difference in the competing bids. He said the deal, while legal, creates an unfair advantage to the county due to its "low overhead" compared to local private businesses.
"I have said it several time already, we have a county agency that is competing with private business and I don't think it's right," Erlandson said. "It may be legal but I don't think it's right."
"These are difficult economic times," he added, also criticizing the RFP for not requesting qualifications of its bidders. "Everyone at every level of government touts the value of private enterprise and small business and here we are, in my view, unfairly competing."
The resolution was backed by Himelein; Robert Stewart, R-Ellington; Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point; and Tom DeJoe, D-Brocton. Erlandson was the lone no vote.