April 14, 2005
City ‘Baling’ Out of Hay Contract
After several months of controversy surrounding the city’s three-year contract for hay services at its Lake Show-Me property, the Memphis City Council voted 3-0 to rescind the existing deal and rebid the services.
The aldermen voted 3-0 to brake the existing deal with Curtis Mallett after receiving legal advice from City Attorney David Peppard.
Peppard informed the city it had the right to rescind the deal because it was entered on mistaken pretenses as the two bidders for the service had submitted different bids. Mallett’s bid offered to pay for ½ the hay, after he received the other hay for providing the service. Long-time provider David Jackson submitted a bid with a purchase price for each bale. The council had mistakenly accepted Mallett’s bid, believing it was a higher price, but ultimately received less revenue as his higher price was paid on only half the hay.
“We’ve created quite a mess with this hay deal and I apologize,” said Mayor Mike Stone. “This has drug on for several months and we need to get it finalized tonight.”
Peppard advised the council it had the legal right to break the agreement and seek new bids.
“The council was comparing apples to oranges in that bid process, and mistakenly took the lesser of the two contract prices,” Peppard said. “A contract based on a mistaken assumption can legally be nullified.”
Mark Mallett warned that breaking the contract would send the wrong message to future bidders.
“If you do this it will say that a contract with the City of Memphis isn’t worth anything,” he said.
Alderman Ron Gardner apologized to the Malletts for the contract confusion. “I feel bad about this,” he said. “Initially I believed we had an agreement to stand behind. Contracts have gotten us in hot water the past couple of months. We even had one official resign over a contract dispute.”
Peppard noted that regardless of the council’s decision someone was going to end up on the wrong side of the final ruling.
“Somebody’s going to end up on the short end of the stick,” he said. “Is it going to be the taxpayers or the person who was mistakenly given the contract?”
Alderman Lucas Remley stated that in the best interest of the taxpayers, the contract should be rescinded. His motion passed by a 3-0 vote. The council agreed to have Peppard draft a new hay contract and advertise for new bids.