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DeKalb ash tree contract sparks debate

Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 10:04 p.m. CDT

DeKALB – DeKalb officials will spend up to $25,000 this year to treat more than 850 ash trees in the city for emerald ash borer.

DeKalb aldermen approved a contract with Trugreen to treat 859 ash trees throughout the city through 2016 as part of a five-year pilot program that started in 2012.

Public Works Director TJ Moore said the program has been successful so far, with the city losing 298 trees. Of those, 145 were in the city's nursery, and officials chose not to treat them.

“I am very pleased,” Moore said, cautioning, “I'm not convinced we're going to treat them forever.”

Dave Clanton, who has been treating the city's ash trees since 2012 through his business, Clanton Tree Service, decried the city's decision to go with another contractor during the City Council meeting Monday.

The city solicited bids from seven firms known to treat ash trees, Moore said. Clanton's bid was disqualified because it didn't follow the bid specifications.

“My understanding is the bid was not on time, was not responsive and was not in an envelope," City Attorney Dean Frieders said.

Dave Baker, 6th Ward alderman, pointed out the city could reject all the bids and start the process again, asking Clanton what he would charge the city to treat the trees. Frieders immediately advised Baker that the city would be subjecting itself to a lawsuit by rejecting all bids and entering into a freewheeling negotiation with Clanton.

After several more minutes of contentious discussion, 5th Ward Alderman Ron Naylor called the question. Aldermen approved the Trugreen contract, with Baker and 1st Ward Alderman David Jacobson voting against it.

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