BETHEL – Without going through a bidding process at Monday night’s meeting, selectmen awarded Doyon’s Septic Services of Bethel the job of hauling several thousand gallons of sludge from the sewer plant this fall.

The sludge will be spread on town farm property, most likely in the woods, which is allowed under a Maine Department of Environmental Protection permit, according to Town Manager Scott Cole.

Prior to discussion, Selectman Dennis Doyon, owner of the company, recused himself and took a seat in the audience.

Speaking as a business owner, he offered the town a lower rate and threatened to stop hauling Bethel’s waste if the board went with a bid process – as it has in the past – and he lost the bid.

Cole told the board that Bethel’s sewer plant needed 60,000 to 80,000 gallons of sludge removed.

The work, he said, was bid in 2005 with Doyon chosen at $4.75 a gallon. In 2006, the sludge was removed for $4.25 a gallon.

Last year, the work was roughly split between Doyon, who hauled 81,000 gallons, and Doug Bennett, who hauled 68,000 gallons, at a rate of $4.50 a gallon.

Cole said Bethel is paid 12 cents a gallon for incoming sewage, the bulk of which has been brought in by Doyon’s company this year.

“We’ve got sludge to move and it ought to be moved before winter,” Cole said.

Doyon’s Septic Service brought in 43,800 gallons this year compared to 1,000 gallons by Bennett, who this year is hauling sewage to Rumford.

Doyon said he’d previously agreed to do the work at last year’s rate, despite this year’s fuel hikes. He also asked to be allowed to use the town’s pump, so he wouldn’t have to use his diesel pump to spread sludge, thereby saving on fuel costs.

“I’ve brought in $13,000 worth of income to the (Bethel sewer) plant,” Doyon said.

When a woman in the audience asked why the board was discussing the issue with no other competitors present, Cole said, “The only way to hear other voices is to put it out to bid.”

Selectmen, however, said they believed that because the job would only cost $4,000, that wasn’t enough to seek bids.

“If it was $40,000, I could see us going to bid, but not for $4,000,” Chairman Stanley Howe said.

“The argument for Dennis is a good one,” Selectmen Don Bennett said. “It doesn’t meet the threshold to go to bid.”

More discussion about possibly putting it out to bid prompted Doyon’s threat, even though selectmen’s minds were mostly made up to go with Doyon’s firm because it brings more sewage to Bethel than any other competitor.

“If I don’t get the bid, I will stop hauling to Bethel and this town will lose $13,000 worth of income that the ratepayers will then pick up,” Doyon said.

After more talk, Doyon said he’d do the work for $4.25 a gallon – dropping the price tag to $3,600. It prompted selectmen to jest that, perhaps, they should discuss it more to get an even lower rate.

Prior to voting 5-0 and awarding the job to Doyon’s company, Selectman Jack Cross said that in the future, the board should invite all area sludge haulers to discuss the contract.

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