Under the law, if a CDL-licensed employee of the city of Dunkirk has an on-the-job accident he, or she, must have a drug test within a certain timeframe.
For at least the last four years, the city has retained Complete Testing Services of Hamburg to provide that testing, along with random drug testing services as required. In 2010, the contract was approved by Common Council in January of that year, while for the next three years, the contract was approved by council in February of each year.
On Tuesday, council again agreed to retain the Hamburg firm to do the testing the city needs, but not before a discussion on the issue. Like the other years, no price was listed in the resolution for 2014, nor was a timeframe listed. Council's re-emphasis of the city's procurement policy was part of the genesis of the discussion. When it came time for a vote on Resolution 14-2014, Councilman Michael Michalski asked if there was a reason there wasn't a third company considered instead of just two being considered.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
Common Council approved the hiring of Complete Testing Service of Hamburg to provide drug testing of city employees as needed, but not until after a lengthy discussion. Pictured from left are councilmen Michael Michalski, William J. Rivera, Adelino Gonzalez and Councilwoman Stacy Szukala.
Personnel Director Roger Heyden replied he went with the "local company."
"I contacted them to get that proposal, which I have done in the past. I'm not aware of anybody in the local vicinity that performs ... they'd probably be coming out of Buffalo," Heyden explained.
Michalski asked if a third bid could have been received without the expense of issuing a request for proposal or a request for qualification while Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak asked if an estimate of what another company would have cost could have been obtained.
Heyden said that could be done.
"Would you be able to have it completed by, there's another finance meeting next Monday, so we could review it. Would you be able to have something together by then?" Michalski asked.
Heyden replied that he didn't think there would be time before Monday to advertise and receive replies.
Department of Public Works Director Tony Gugino said he had a question and asked if the resolution was for coverage in 2014. When told yes, Gugino had another question.
"Are we currently covered with someone right now?" Gugino wanted to know.
Heyden said the city wasn't covered, the contract expired.
"I believe that we're still using them under 2013's prices," Fiscal Affairs Officer Rich Halas interjected. "We've been using them right along."
"OK, so then the question is would it put a damper on the need and the necessity for having something decided tonight, versus waiting until the next council meeting, contingent on us receiving some more information? ... I guess that would be your call Roger (Heyden)," Kiyak stated.
Heyden replied that a new program would have to be set up and records transferred.
"I understand that, but at least get the information so that we can make a decision as to which company will best serve our needs," Kiyak replied. "Would they still have to go through all of that? Is there enough time to procure at least the pricing of another company before we go into a contract?"
Heyden repeated that the current contract has expired and a new program would be needed if a new company was hired to perform the testing.
Councilman Adelino Gonzalez said the same company could be used for now and then perhaps a different company could be hired for the rest of the year.
"According to our procurement policy, we have to have three quotes," he added.
Councilwoman Stacy Szukala asked about extending the current contract for one month, allowing them to do necessary paperwork.
"It gives us a couple weeks," she added.
Kiyak said that would mean tabling the resolution and looking into other options.
"I hope there's no accidents with the CDL drivers," City Attorney Ron Szot interjected.
"Amen," Gugino added.
"I don't know if Roger was clear. I don't think there's another local company who provides these services where there's a personal-injury accident with a CDL driver. They have to come and take a drug test within a certain period of time," Szot stated. "Sure, maybe some company from Williamsville or Rochester or the Falls or wherever will bid on it and take the money for the testing occasionally, but if you need someone here on a timely basis it may not necessarily happen. I know the people that the city's used for the last several years have been pretty consistent in timely response."
Szukala asked if that was the same company that was on the resolution and was told yes.
"We're not switching it at this time. I think we have to weigh the pros and cons, if we don't have somebody at this time I think that this is our fault that we let this lapse. ... We should pass this so we have coverage. I think not having coverage is much more costly in the end."
Kiyak then called for a vote, which unanimously approved the contract for 2014.
Send comments on this story to email@example.com