Montgomery County cancels contract for electoral cart reconstruction project

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Montgomery County commissioners have agreed to cancel a contract with a selected metal fabrication company to rebuild polling carts after the price began to skyrocket above the approved contract price.

A frustrated Precinct 3 commissioner, James Noack, said he had been skeptical of the project from the start.

“The fact that we’re in a position now, really because of mismanagement, the county is going to pay twice or even more for these carts,” Noack said.

The commissioners awarded $84,350 to Texas manufacturers at their Nov. 16 meeting. In January, the purchasing department sought court approval to increase the supply by the maximum of 25% allowed by law to change the design of the carts.

“It seems nobody was paying attention to how many of these carts we had and what was being retrofitted with specs that changed at least twice,” Noack said. “Honestly, I don’t have any faith in what’s going on with this project.”

Noack said a member of the tribunal must now oversee the project.

“The elections have proven that they are not running this project on their own,” he said.

Precinct 1 commissioner Robert Walker, who questioned the offer at the November meeting, said he would oversee the project.

At the November 16 court meeting, several commissioners questioned the offer which was thousands less than the other bidders.

Purchasing manager Gilbert Jalomo said the cost was about $190 to adapt existing polling carts to the new voting machine the county purchased late last year.

“We’ve spoken with Texas Fabricators and they think they left some money on the table, but they’re good with their numbers,” Jalomo said, adding that the county provided photos and specs of what the county needed. “They had a chance to look at the prototype and the existing cart and they were good with the number.”

The court asked Walker to work with Elections to develop the best plan for the cart, whether that means continuing to upgrade or purchasing the pre-built carts for the election machines.

The matter will come back to court at a future meeting.

cdominguez@hcnonline.com


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