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Oyster Bay to rebid nearly 20 contracts after legal notices omitted time

Oyster Bay Town Hall on Audrey Avenue on

Oyster Bay Town Hall on Audrey Avenue on Oct. 21, 2010. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

The Town of Oyster Bay plans to rebid 18 contracts after officials omitted required information from published legal advertisements, Town Supervisor John Venditto said.

The contracts included the purchase of asphalt equipment, reversible hockey practice jerseys and a maritime thermal night vision system as well as maintenance of vehicle equipment, and pest and rodent control.

The town regularly published legal notices for competitive bidding on contracts and purchases this year but frequently failed to follow state law requiring them to note the time the bids were due or would be opened.

A review of legal notices published this year in Newsday's classified advertisement section shows the town included a date but not a time in 57 of 76 notices. After Newsday informed town officials of the issue last week, Venditto said they reviewed all of this year's legal notices and discovered 63 in various publications did not include the time.

The problem arose after the town's general services department started using new software on Jan. 2, Venditto said.

"There's a template for the public notice, and the time was accidentally, inadvertently, mistakenly, omitted from the new template," he said.

State municipal law requires that advertisements "shall contain a statement of the time when and place where all bids received pursuant to such notice will be publicly opened and read and where the identity of all offerers will be publicly disclosed."

Of the 63 notices identified by the town, 45 have been awarded and partly or fully completed, so they will not be rescinded, Venditto said. The remaining 18 competitive bids were either unopened or opened but not awarded.

"Those 18 need to be rebid because under the law, when you make the mistake that we made here with regard to omitting the time, the bid is deemed to be void," Venditto said.

As recently as Oct. 31, Oyster Bay published a notice to bidders for printing envelopes for the receiver of taxes. Those bids are due Nov. 19. That notice stated the bids will be opened immediately and publicly read in Town Hall's hearing room, but the time was not indicated.

Some of the ads that did not include a time covered a range of town purchases and contracts, such as supplying landscaping supplies, a maintenance contract on the town's ice skating rink and the purchase of automotive components.

More specifics or the dollar amounts on all of the contracts were not immediately available. Though the times were not published, Venditto said bidders knew the times because they were included in bid packages. "The problem has now been corrected . . . ," Venditto said.

Former counsel to the Suffolk County Legislature Paul Sabatino II said omitting the time in a bidding notice could "open up potential for a legal challenge if somebody has the resources or the interest."

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