The $2.4 million contract will take effect most likely within the next month, as the county is currently under a month-to-month contract with its previous vendor Barking Hound, which it is dropping due to a barrage of complaints by residents.
Interim County Manager David Ware recommended to the board that animal services not be brought in house — which was previously discussed — but also that the contract be rebid, as both companies who bid, LifeLine and Siwell Group have negative working capital, which means a company’s assets cannot pay off its short-term liabilities.
He said due to this, the companies scored low in the financial portion of the bidding formula used by the county to issue contracts.
However, the contract has been rebid several times in the past with no other companies sending in proposals. The commissioners also expressed an eagerness to wrap up the ongoing search for Barking Hound’s replacement.
“I believe due diligence demands we proceed today,” District 5 Commissioner Emma Darnell said.
The commissioners expressed skepticism over the importance of the low financial score.
“When we begin to look at one thing as opposed to a lot of things, then we start cherry picking,” District 7 Commissioner Bill Edwards said.
Darnell said with the negative working capital being the lone issue with the bid from LifeLine, she could not accept Ware’s recommendation to turn down the proposal.
“I think we have to be the selection committee and make our own decisions,” she said, instead of relying on the county’s formal bid selection committee.
District 2 Commissioner Robb Pitts suggested that the vendors be called upon to explain their financial stability before a selection is made.
“I don’t think we can downplay this issue of financial responsibility. That’s pretty significant,” he said. “It would be a terrible precedent to set to begin to award contracts to firms that are not in good financial shape.”
District 6 Commissioner Joan Garner gave the vendors her vote of confidence, however.
“I don’t think they would apply if they couldn’t handle it,” she said of the contract.
She suggested, however, that an animal control advisory board be reactivated to have some oversight over the service.
A motion to award the contract to LifeLine, as well as reactive the animal control advisory board was approved with a vote of 6-1. The dissenting vote belonged to District 4 Commissioner Tom Lowe, who said he wanted to see the county bring the service in-house.
The $2.4 million spent on the service is shouldered mostly by the municipalities within Fulton County.
The contract is higher than the competitor’s $2.2 million proposal, which is higher even still than the current $2.1 million the county is paying Barking Hound for its services.